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How to Become More Patient

by Beverly Smallwood, Ph.D.

"Lord, give me patience -- and hurry!"

Have you ever prayed this prayer? You've had plenty of opportunities to, haven't you? I don't know about you, but I tend to overestimate what I can accomplish in the hours I have, and underestimate the hassles that will accompany those tasks that seemed simple when I took them on. Patience is an essential skill for both organizational leaders and team members.


The good news is...patience can be learned.

The bad news is...patience is only learned through opportunities to practice it!

The importance of patience

Why is patience so important in the Magnetic Workplace?

As you well know, hassles are the stuff of which daily schedules are made. The ability to stay calm and to adjust quickly when plans are thwarted is a necessary tool in every individual's repertoire of coping skills.

A manager's patience is especially important. If a person in a leadership role blows up easily, everyone else will be "invited" to do the same.

Patience is also essential as the manager coaches and develops people. Growth does not occur in a smooth, upward pathway.

Even in the best of cases, there are setbacks, disappointments, and struggles. There will be occasions in which the manager has invested time and energy into a team member, only to have him or her bail out or even betray the leader.

Everyone's patience is challenged when major organizational changes are attempted. An organizational culture is a powerful force, and positive changes in the system take time. (It seems, unfairly, that negative changes can occur almost instantly!)

Five strategies for developing patience

1. Become more realistic in your expectations

"Stuff happens," and the sooner we acknowledge that, the more accurately we can plan the tasks in our lives. Optimism is good, but unrealistic optimism about uninterrupted smooth sailing can sabotage the completion of important tasks.

Expect and plan for delays, complications, and setbacks. You'll be better prepared if they happen, and delighted if they don't!

2. View setbacks as temporary

Research shows that the most resilient people are able to view problems as temporary. They often use the adage, "This, too, shall pass."

3. Keep the mentality of the problem solver, not the victim

The theme song of people with the victim mentality is, "Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me." They see themselves as unfortunate pawns of negative forces and other people who control their destinies.

Problem-solvers, on the other hand, look at negative situations to discover what they can do. They are able to distinguish the things over which they have control vs. the things that they can't change. Within the conditions they face, they stay involved and active in doing the little things that make a difference. They work especially diligently in keeping their own internal reactions positive and constructive.

4. Reject bitterness

Bitterness is the result of anger that is not resolved. It's a killer...psychologically, relationally, and physically! Bitter people are anything but patient. They have short fuses, overreacting when even unrelated situations remind them of the person or event they resent. Resolve conflicts promptly, and/or choose to forgive and move on!

5. Remember your successes in other difficult situations

When you find yourself in a mess that seems unending, and you wonder if you'll ever make it...take heart! Remember that you've been in tough situations before, and you're still here. Recall times that looked impossible, but you found a way. Have faith that this time will be no exception.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist, professional speaker, and executive and personal coach who specializes in creating Magnetic Workplaces and in bringing out the best in people. She's author of the upcoming book: This Can't Be Happening to Me!. Sign up for her free email newsletter at her website: http://www.MagneticWorkplaces.com. Contact Dr. Bev by email at: Bev@MagneticWorkplaces.com or by phone, 877-CAN-LEAD (226-5323) or 601-264-0890.

Some Related Articles:

Self-Management is Critical to Handling Problems
Deepening Our Discipline



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