For many of us, we’ve made it this long through the pandemic on the hope that it wouldn’t be too much longer before everything went back to normal – or as normal as the future will get. But, with every forward step we take, there seems to be two more on the path than before.
Unfortunately, no matter how frustrating it may get, there isn’t much we can do to change what’s happening out there. The only thing we can control, is ourselves and our reactions.
So, why patience?
Patient in an Impatient World
The very world we live in is basically impatient, unfortunately, thanks to everything happening so quickly. Whether it is sending a message or email, ordering food in an app, purchasing something online, or any number of day-to-day things, we live in an age of pretty much instant everything.
So, what happens when things slow down? We get frustrated, irritated, and impatient. We want what we want now, and everyone between us and what we want may be the unwitting recipient of our frustrated impatience.
But being impatient is fine, right? Wrong!
What is the price of impatience? More than time, it could cost money, respect, trust, all of the above, or even worse. Impatience is the ultimate self-sabotage. It clouds the judgement, detracts from your credibility, and damages relationships.
Suffering from impatience also means suffering from angst, anxiety and the kind of aggressive rush to action that inevitably results in unnecessary mistakes.
Whenever I’ve been impatient, it has cost me far more time and money to unwind my hurried, emotional actions than it would have cost to just sit back, let things develop, ask the right questions and gain a well-rounded perspective. The trick for me is to reflect often on those painful experiences to remind myself that a few lost minutes now are well worth any alternative scenario that being impatient might cause.
So, how do we develop patience in an impatient world?
Curbing Your Impatience
First, you have to learn how to curb your impatience.
How do we know when we’re being impatient? More than likely, you’ll exhibit one of the following:
- Shallow breathing
- Muscle tension
- Hand clenching/tightening
- Restless feet/constantly moving legs
- Anger and/or irritability
- Nervousness and/or anxiety
- Rushing and/or pushing forward
- Quick/snap decisions
Once you start to recognize the signs of impatience, find strategies to avoid becoming impatient and letting it take over. Some ideas for curbing impatience include:
- Taking deep, slow breaths for a count of 10
- Focus on relaxing
- Force yourself to slow down, speak, and move more slowly
- Make yourself wait
- Stop doing things that aren’t important
- Give others a chance to manage, speak, and act
- Use the saying, “Stay calm and move forward.”
We’re told, as children, that patience is a virtue; however, rarely does anyone ever really show us how to be patient. Many of us have to work on our own at cultivating this trait.
We all know that we should relax and wait prudently to make the best logical move, but when emotions get involved, we sometimes can’t help ourselves.
Patience is what helps us to have the mindfulness to stop for a while and reflect on the present moment. By being in the moment, we can take the small and big picture into consideration so we can make better decisions. Sometimes that also means taking into account other people’s perspectives.
Patience also helps us maintain our composure, regardless of whether we’re facing an irate customer or an online communication error. A lack of patience means we don’t have control of ourselves. Lack of self-control implies a lack of understanding, and lack of understanding means we don’t have the capacity to plan, communicate, and set realistic expectations. But having a tenacious grasp of these issues will help us claim the rewards that our patience can deliver.
Your patience prevents you from simply jumping in with both feet. Instead, you will be able to hear that little voice telling you to take the time to evaluate your options and consider both the risks and the benefits. If anyone pushes you to make an immediate decision, your patience will send up a red flag and tell you it’s not the right opportunity at the right time.
The next time you’re about to make a quick pivot or respond to an email at lightning speed, pause, take a breath and ask yourself some pointed questions instead. The first question to consider is, “What should I be asking about this situation that I haven’t yet thought to ask?” In this case, being patient is a smart way to avoid assumptions-assumptions that could ultimately lead to your downfall. Situations often become clearer as time passes.
Patience with Others/Fellowmen
In my experience, the rapid conclusion I reach is occasionally not as solid as I think. Sometimes, I overlook critical details, implications, or opportunities. Other times, I grow impatient and end up alienating the people I’m working with.
When working with other people, how often do you deliberately pause to consider the perspective of the person sitting across from you? When was the last time you used patience as an opportunity to deepen your empathy and therefore position yourself to maximize the outcome of an interpersonal interaction?
Everyone is just trying to do to best they can right now. Assume that they are, even if their current version of best isn’t what you want it to be.
Being patient means we treat other people with high regard, and they will respond with loyalty and admiration to our brand (personal or business). Being impatient can mean driving people away, making the ones that stick around miserable, or just plain tension everywhere we look.
In the long run, putting in the effort to practice patience will lighten up the company culture so your team members will stick with you and lighten up your favorite markets so the customer service will stick around and keep getting better.
Give people a chance and the benefit of the doubt, and they’ll often rise above the bar you set.
Unfortunately, all the patience in the world won’t change how crazy things have been lately. Supplies will still be missing/lacking, orders will still be late, people will still be arguing, and the pandemic will still surround us. But being patient with ourselves and with others will make the journey a lot easier.