a man and a woman having a meeting in a conference room

Why Making Patience a Priority in the Workplace Matters

Struggling to be patient with your customers or worse, your team members? Want to create a culture of empathy and patience in your workplace but are unsure about how to stay present when your time is limited and work is throwing a million things your way?

In this article, we’re discussing the 3-step proven strategy to becoming a more patient person both in and out of the workplace.

Make Listening a Priority, Not Responding

Think about a time you wished you were a little more patient. Maybe you rushed a colleague who was explaining a customer service issue or you were focusing on work in front of you and were unintentionally short with a team member. Trust us when we say, we get it and we’ve been there.

Be honest with yourself and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you making eye contact with the person as they’re speaking to you?
  • Do you find yourself interrupting the other person mid-sentence?
  • Are you formulating your response as they’re speaking?

If you said yes to any of the questions it’s time to refresh your listening skills.

Put simply, it’s impossible to be the patient person you want to be for your team members, or anyone really, if you don’t make listening a priority. That means not thinking as they’re talking to you, just hearing their words.

Does it sound like an easy thing to do? Sure! Is it? For many of us, not at all!

We have become so conditioned to anticipating what the other person is saying that we find ourselves thinking of a response while their mid-sentence and honestly, it’s an awful habit.

Your goal should be to hear their words, and if you’re in the middle of something tell the other person to give you a specific amount of time, so you have the capacity to hear what they’re actually saying to you.

Fast forward 12 months or more and you may have outgrown your original team- congrats! The downside? You have a training process that could feel rushed or disorganized, leaving new team members unsure of what to do in certain situations. That lack of confidence can lead your team to not feel comfortable in their role or in the company itself. 

Let it sink in (before responding)

Next, let their words sink in. You might be saying, “Coach Marcella, I heard what they said.” and I would ask you if you heard them or if you let their words actually sink in.

That’s when you’re actually listening.

Your job as that other person is speaking with you is to be present, hear their words and let them sink in.

Ask yourself:

  • Am I waiting until the other person is finished speaking to really think about what they’re saying to me?

  • Am I looking at their non-verbal cues (Facial expression, mood, gestures, physical stance)?

Both of these questions factor into what the person is actually saying to you, in fact experts found that 70 to 93 percent of communication is nonverbal!


Acknowledge their individuality

How many times have you listened to a colleague and automatically compared it to a similar situation experienced by a different team member?

Honestly, it’s hard not to but often it makes us forget that people are individuals and no situation is exactly the same.

Once the other person has finished speaking it’s up to you to ask the right questions that help you get a better understanding of the situation. Only at that point can we begin having a productive and positive conversation which is the point of all of this, right?

Give your team members the space to explain their situation without judgment and make them feel heard.

Whether you’re trying to become a more patient person yourself or are trying to cultivate a more patient and positive workplace, following this 3-step process will help you develop the muscle memory to do so.

Take every interaction with your colleagues, customers, even your friends and family as an opportunity to practice improving your patience. That way, when serious interactions arise you’re ready to respond with patience, positivity and grace.

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