Back To Basics: Practicing Patience

How to Practice Patience;
Why this skill is vital in today’s impatient workplace

Recently I was reminded of a particularly valuable lesson - patience is a virtue. In today’s digital age and fast paced business environment, it’s very hard to be patient. Sitting idle can feel torturous to someone use to instant messaging and navigating three digital devices at once. Perhaps it is because of this desire for immediate action and gratification, that practicing patience both in business and our personal lives is more valuable now than ever before. Patience is a necessary skill to be successful in employee relations, communications, business negotiations, or achieving personal goals.

For example, last week one of my clients was feeling frustrated that she was not receiving offers as quickly as she wanted in response to her hard work and efforts to find a new job. Knowing that she had taken all the essential steps and had been planting seeds for the last few months, I told her to be patient. I advised her to sit back, enjoy some downtime, and wait for her seeds to grow. At the time she responded with disbelief and incredulity but within a week, she called to tell me that she had multiple new opportunities to consider!

Often the most valuable action you can take when you’ve done as much as you can, exhausted all possibilities, or when life becomes overly complicated -- is to remain calm and quite.

Benefits of practicing patience:

By practicing patience, you can stop spinning your wheels unnecessarily, prevent impulsive actions, improve decision-making, become more mindful, build your reputation for level-headedness and self-possession, appear more tolerant, and become more positive, hopeful and resilient. By giving yourself a few moments of time and space to process and respond to events, can project more confident behavior. All of these outcomes will help you in your work and when working with others.

How to practice patience:

Patience is not something that we do naturally; rather, it is a skill that you need to develop. Therefore, the more you practice patience, the more patient you will become.

Here are a few ways in which you can develop and improve your practice of patience:

  • Remember there is a difference between urgency and impatience. Recognize to which you are reacting.

  • Manage your emotions. Remember, you have a choice in how you react in every situation. Choose to be patient.

  • Be mindful and force yourself to slow down. Take deep, slow breaths, and count to 10. This practice will relax your body and distance yourself emotionally.

  • Be clear with others on your timing and expectations. This rule works both ways:

  • First, be clear with yourself and with others when assigning projects. If you give someone a due date, allow that person the time (you allotted) to complete the task. Don’t unnecessarily or unrealistically ask them to produce something before the date you set. Give others the time needed to process and act on your requests. And only follow-up when the due date you set - has arrived.

  • Second, clearly communicate your needs and expectations when accepting an assignment. If you know a project is going to take two weeks to complete, say that upfront. Communicate your expectations for how you work. Tell the other person if you will provide updates along the way or will get back to them at the assigned due date.

  • Remind yourself that impatience rarely gets others to move faster and how silly it is you're reacting this way.

Each of us struggles with impatience. But if you want effective work relationships and a successful career, then it is important to develop your skill and practice patience.

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