Patience is one of those qualities we all wish we had. Maybe you are extremely impatient. Maybe you have the patience of Job. Regardless, you likely would be happy to have more patience.
Dictionary.com defines patience as the “quality of being patient as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.”
If you’ve ever wished or prayed for more patience, you’ve probably experienced some trying times that demanded it. How did you react? Did you take those opportunities to demonstrate the patience that lies deep inside you or did you overreact to the circumstances like usual?
I first met my wife in eighth grade. I wish I could say we were high school sweethearts but she turned me down for 11 years before she finally said yes. I tease her all the time that I used all of my patience in those 11 years of waiting.
It’s really impossible to use it all though. Why? Patience is a state of being. It’s a choice. You choose how you react to events and circumstances. One person does not innately have more patience than another.
Having patience is definitely important in your career. You won’t become CEO without first working in the business. You won’t immediately become a manager of others until you’ve served your time. Typically, promotions don’t come when you first expect them. You have to be patient.
Co-workers may not be as efficient as you want them to be and you have to correct their work. A new boss may not recognize your strengths for a few months. Your commute home may be stalled due to a “sunshine slowdown.” You can’t control these things. So why not be patient with them.
How do you react to those events that try your patience? I’ve used the following five ways to modify my reactions:
It’s not personal – In most cases, people do not do things just to see your reactions. Sure, there are those types of people but they are in the minority. Don’t take it personally. There are usually other factors of which you are not aware that impact others’ decisions.
Tell others how their actions or decisions affect you – If you don’t tell people how you are impacted by their decisions or actions/inactions, they don’t know they need to change. I see this mostly in the employee/boss relationship. I try to tell my employees how what they do impacts not only me, but also impacts the company as a whole.
Leaders or managers fix things done by their employees and do not tell them about what had to be corrected. I’ve been guilty of this. How can that employee know what to correct if he doesn’t know it was completed incorrectly? He can’t know. Take the time to explain why it’s wrong but more importantly why correcting it in the future will benefit everyone.
Ignore the small things – Each person has at least one or two idiosyncrasies that drive you crazy. Letting unimportant things bother you will drive you off the deep end. Just ignore them. Idiosyncrasies, in most cases, are habits or mannerisms that are not likely to be changed. You don’t want to offend that person for something small.
Think before you speak – The biggest issue with impatient people is how they verbally react to situations. I see it all the time in my daughter’s sporting events. Parents overreact to a referee’s call because they are not objective. If they think about what they are going to say before they say it, their stress levels will not be near as high.
The bed-side manner – I do not know the etymology of this phrase but in most cases it relates to a doctor’s manner when giving bad news to a patient or a patient’s family members. Caring family members may not think before they speak because the news is so bad. They may blame the doctor for the patient’s sickness. A good doctor (or nurse) knows how to handle these types of reactions.
In almost all audit engagements, I’m responsible for telling a client about something that is wrong. I could say, “You’ve done this wrong. Correct it now.” Instead, I first tell the impact the issue has on the financial records or personnel. Then, I offer recommendations for resolving the issue. It makes such a big difference.
We all need to be more patient in our careers, with our families, with ourselves. Remember, that patience is a quality of being. You can choose how you react. You can be patient.
Be intentional. Be happy. Enjoy success.