How to Be Patient in the Workplace

Impatience often does more harm than good.
i David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images

“Patience is a virtue.” No doubt, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but there’s a lot of truth in these four little words. And when it comes to the workplace, patience is often prized beyond many other personal traits. Being patient reduces stress, improves the decision-making process and gives you more empathy for others.

Step 1

Breathe deeply and count backwards from 10 if, for example, a colleague is giving a ridiculous excuse for missing a deadline. It sounds a bit clichéd, but a deep breath helps to slow your heart rate and relax your body, which give your brain a cue to calm down. Take a step back and focus on what is causing your impatience, and then choose to react in a more composed fashion.

Step 2

Look for “controllable” factors surrounding your impatience. For some, impatience hits its peak in the afternoon — you know, when they’re hungry. Others become more impatient towards the end of the day — a response more so to being tired than anything else. Eat a snack at midday if you find hunger is fraying your nerves. Hit the hay a little earlier when fatigue is the cause. Join a gym to burn away the stress. You could avoid needless frustration altogether.

Step 3

Identify what impatience is actually doing in the workplace. Ask yourself, "Does my impatience get someone to work faster? Or solve a problem? Or meet a deadline? Or even answer a pressing question?" Probably not. In fact, it’s doing more harm than good. Frame your impatience in these terms to better approach situations in a logical fashion rather than an emotional one.

Step 4

Ask yourself why you’re getting impatient or frustrated to draw your awareness inward, and resist the urge to focus on external factors playing on your emotions. Drill down through all the “whys” to help determine what happened, why it happened and what can be done to prevent it from happening in the future.

Step 5

Record when you feel most impatient at work, including all the specifics, such as time, people and situation. You might find that you have triggers. Put a plan in place to better manage these triggers, like taking a deep breath when a certain person is approaching your desk or choosing to respond logically rather than emotionally at a meeting.

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