How to be more patient at work and why it’s important

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 13 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Waiting for things can feel difficult when you're in a fast-paced work environment with a busy schedule. Whether you're waiting for colleagues, waiting to see improvements in business performance, waiting for a promotion or waiting for responses from customers or suppliers, it's important to understand how to be patient. If patience is something you find challenging, there are some steps you can take to help you cultivate patience. In this article, we explore how to be more patient at work and why it's important.

What is patience?

Patience is the ability to accept waiting, delays, problems or suffering. If you're patient, you can tolerate these situations without becoming distressed or anxious. You normally need patience when you're waiting for an outcome or development that you want or need. Many different situations require patience when you're at work, such as waiting to close a deal, experiencing unexpected delays to a project or struggling to communicate well with a colleague. Having patience in situations like this helps you to cope with the situation and continue to work successfully.

When you lack patience, you're likely to struggle to cope with delays and challenges that take time to resolve. This could cause you to feel stressed and anxious or might mean you lose your temper and begin conflicts with others. These effects can all negatively affect your well-being and the well-being of your colleagues. Other factors can also affect your ability to remain patient. These include hunger, tiredness, illness and stress.

Related: What is emotional intelligence? A comprehensive guide

How to be more patient

If you want to learn how to be more patient, there are some steps you can follow. Using these ideas can often help you to develop your patience. If you struggle with one suggestion, it might be worth trying a different one to find strategies that suit you. Here are some suggestions for learning how to have patience:

1. Make yourself wait for things

Making yourself wait for things is one of the most effective strategies for developing your patience. Having to wait for something can also make you appreciate it more when you get it, which can make you happier in the long term. You can practise making yourself wait before you do something that you want to do. This helps to build up your patience for other situations, too.

Related: Interpersonal skills: definitions and examples

2. Question your expectations

When you're feeling impatient, it can be worthwhile to question your expectations. In some circumstances, you might be expecting results more quickly than is reasonable. If this is the case, reminding yourself of what realistic expectations are can help you to feel calmer. It's also worth thinking about why you want to see results or progress so quickly and taking steps to tackle the cause, if possible.

3. Identify the real issue

It's helpful to identify the real issue behind your lack of patience. You might be anxious about missing deadlines, lack confidence that your team can support you or feel like you're letting other people down. Thinking about the cause of your feelings and considering what you can do about it can make it easier to address your lack of patience.

4. Prioritise your schedule

People often struggle with patience because they feel overwhelmed, so prioritising your schedule can help you to feel more patient. Having fewer responsibilities can make it easier to wait for things because you feel under less pressure. You can think about everything you do on a normal day, including work tasks and what you do before and after work. Finding one or two low-priority tasks you can drop from your schedule can help to relieve some pressure and improve your patience.

Related: What is a work schedule? Including types and benefits

5. Be aware of your triggers

When you're busy with several tasks at once, you can start to feel impatient, but knowing what your triggers are can help you to deal with them. When you notice yourself feeling impatient, try thinking about the reason why. You can write your feelings down, so you have a record of them. You might be able to eventually identify patterns and then take steps to find other ways to cope with them.

Related: How to practice self-regulation (with some examples)

6. Relax and take deep breaths

If you start to feel impatient, you can calm yourself down by taking deep breaths and making an effort to relax. It might be helpful to remove yourself from the situation while you calm down. Counting to 10 while you breathe can help to slow your heart rate. If you still need help, going for a brief walk can also be beneficial. Making an effort to relax and relieve pressure can help your feelings and improve your patience. If necessary, you can then come back to the situation with a different mindset.

Related: 14 effective calming techniques

7. Choose how to react

There are some situations where you have some control over how you react. You can choose to respond to delays and challenges with patience or you can choose to react differently. Aiming to reframe the circumstances more positively can help you to improve your patience. Understanding how to manage your emotions at work can help you to react to issues with more patience.

The types of patience

Some research argues that there are three main varieties of patience. All these types are necessary both in your career and in your daily life. In some situations, you might benefit from showing more than one type of patience. These are the three types of patience:

Interpersonal patience

Interpersonal patience is your patience with other people and their personalities, needs and challenges, which might be different to your own. Interpersonal patience is essential when working with other people or when dealing with customers, suppliers and partners. Interpersonal patience helps customer service professionals to deliver high-quality service and helps all types of employees to work with their colleagues successfully. Showing this type of patience requires interpersonal skills and empathy. You also need emotional intelligence to understand how your reactions might affect others.

Related: The advantages of working in a team: 11 aspects to consider

Life hardship patience

Life hardship patience refers to experiencing a major setback in your life. It can also describe situations like waiting for a promotion or a new job or working towards any other long-term career goal. This type of patience requires you to focus on reaching your goal. You also ought to be able to manage your emotions because this type of patience often accompanies a wide variety of different feelings.

Daily hassle patience

Daily hassle patience is about having patience with circumstances that are beyond your control. These are minor day-to-day issues like waiting for a computer program to load or struggling with your Internet connection. You also need daily hassle patience for day-to-day tasks like administrative tasks that you might view as a distraction. This type of patience requires you to have self-discipline and attention to detail so you can deal with these situations.

Why it's important to be patient at work?

Patience is important at work because you often deal with adverse situations in a professional manner. This includes delays, unexpected challenges or waiting for updates, developments or other people. Having patience is vital for working successfully as part of a team, especially if some of your work is dependent on the work of others. Having patience in your interactions and collaborations with other team members helps the whole team to work more successfully. Patience can limit conflict at work and improve communication and teamwork, which creates a positive working environment.

Related: Q&A: describe a challenge you faced and how you overcame it

Benefits of being patient

There are many benefits to practising patience, both for yourself and others around you. Analysing your own behaviour and then practising patience is an opportunity to learn and develop both personally and professionally. You might sometimes change your perspective to view what you originally considered a setback as a new opportunity. Some of the main benefits of having more patience are:

  • You develop more realistic expectations

  • You react to challenges more calmly

  • You develop your character and improve your strength and resilience

  • You may experience improved well-being

  • You develop a more pleasant workplace and team environment

  • You make more thoughtful decisions, applying better judgement, in contrast to when you're impatient where you're more likely to make rushed, irrational decisions

  • You build more trust with other people.

Related: Guide: how to build trust in the workplace in 13 steps

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