Patience is difficult -- especially when your co-workers are getting on your last nerve -- but biting your tongue has many benefits. As hard as it might be at first, if you practice being patient, others in your workplace might follow suit, improving collaboration and making your workplace fun -- or at least more tolerable.
Impatience can make a bad situation worse. For example, suppose a looming deadline is stressing everyone in the workplace. Flaring out at others for mistakes won’t make the situation easier. If instead you patiently wait for things to calm down and then address the problems that arose, you avoid an explosive blowup that solves nothing.
Taking Time to Think
Patience gives you time to make the best choice. Suppose a colleague lashes out at you because of a mistake you’ve made. If you respond in kind, perhaps pointing out all the mistakes she has made, animosity might develop. But if you patiently collect your thoughts and allow the bad feelings to lessen, you can address her criticism objectively. At the very least, your calm response will make her anger seem unreasonable in contrast.
Help Others Improve
Being patient with others gives them time to make improvements. For example, if you’re mentoring a new employee, a lack of patience accomplishes nothing. Instead, patiently finding new ways to explain things is a more effective way to improve her performance. Later, she’ll remember your willingness to help. And if she truly is incapable of learning, reassignment to a different position is still a better option than lashing out at her.
Patience fosters workplace cooperation. If everyone is patient, conflicts will be rare and collaboration easy. But just one impatient person can ruin the workplace for everyone. A sharp-tongued colleague, for instance, can bring down everyone with her negative attitude and tendency to impatiently criticize others.
Drawing the Line
Patience might be a virtue, but passivity isn’t. Don’t let people take advantage of your willingness to tolerate their bad behavior. Suppose, for example, you’ve asked a colleague several times to stop taking credit for your work. At a certain point, you must take action to stop the abuse. Speak to your supervisor or find some other formal means of resolving the problem. Otherwise, if you remain passive, your colleague might never stop abusing you and others.
Stan Mack is a business writer specializing in finance, business ethics and human resources. His work has appeared in the online editions of the "Houston Chronicle" and "USA Today," among other outlets. Mack studied philosophy and economics at the University of Memphis.