The Importance of Being Patient and How To Develop Patience

Updated February 3, 2023

A person sits at their desk in a home office decorated by potted plants and lit by natural light.

Patience can be a valuable skill in the workplace and for your personal life. Being patient can help you set goals, collaborate more effectively with coworkers and overcome career obstacles. Understanding how to be patient and what its benefits are can help you better understand the importance of this crucial skill inside and outside of the workplace.

In this article, we examine what being patient at work means, what its benefits are and how to develop patience as a skill.

What does being patient mean?

Being patient means controlling your emotional responses to certain situations and accepting that sometimes things may not meet your expectations. Managing expectations is a crucial component in being more patient, as you may expect certain reactions, events or outcomes, and when they don't occur, they can cause an emotional response.

Patient people understand that the more they accept the things they can't change, such as events they can't control, the more they can learn to react in a way that doesn't maximize stress or make the situation worse.

Related: How To Be More Patient at Work (With Steps, Tips and Benefits)

What are the career benefits of patience?

Patience can have multiple benefits, from making you a better team player to being more successful in your own career. Here are some examples:

  • Achieving your goals: One of the most important benefits of patience in your career is that it allows you to achieve your goals. Facing and overcoming obstacles builds endurance and confidence, and the satisfaction you receive from achieving each milestone goal can help you to stay motivated in your career.

  • Learning valuable skills and lessons: Patience gives you the endurance necessary to learn difficult skills. Challenging work can be rewarding when you have a method of approaching it, and patience can help you maintain the positive mindset necessary for improvement.

  • Helping others reach their goals: Patience is a necessary trait for a mentor, teacher or leader. When you're patient with other people, you allow them room to learn and grow, which can result in students, employees and coworkers that learn faster and gain confidence.

  • Encouraging collaboration: Working with a team involves listening to others' ideas and suggestions and respecting their workflow. Patience can make working with others vastly more enjoyable and fluid, making problem-solving a more efficient process.

Related: 20 Side Jobs To Make Extra Money

How to develop patience in your career

Patience doesn't mean you never feel frustrated, but it does mean you know how to handle frustration and grant allowances for it. You can avoid making decisions based on the anger or frustration you feel. Developing patience can take some practice, so here are some strategies you can follow:

Recognize your triggers

The first step to developing more patience is to recognize when something is triggering you. When you can clearly highlight a problem, a resolution may be easier to find. When you experience strong emotions, your body reacts to them.

Noticing these reactions can help you identify what's causing you to feel impatient. Family, friends and trusted colleagues may also be able to tell you when they notice signs of impatience. Here are a few signs you may experience:

  • Anxiety or feeling nervous

  • Shortened breath

  • Clenched teeth or fists

  • Muscle tension

  • Rushing through activities

  • Anger and irritability

  • Making rash decisions

Related: 10 Key Strengths To Develop for Career Advancement

The 5 whys technique

Asking yourself why five times may help you identify the cause of your irritation. When you recognize that you're becoming frustrated with a situation, take a moment to recover alone. Keep a list of the things that trigger you so that you're more aware of them and can be proactive about the problem.

To use the 5 whys technique, follow these steps:

  1. Determine the immediate problem you're experiencing. Sometimes, it can help to write it down.

  2. Ask yourself why you feel the way you do. Your answer should be based on what is actually happening. There should be concrete things you can identify.

  3. Ask why for each reason. You may have many reasons why you're feeling angered or anxious. For each of those reasons, ask why. At the end of a series of questions, you can determine the cause of your frustration.

Related: What Are Problem-Solving Skills? Definitions and Examples

Act calm to feel calm

One way your body responds to anger, anxiety or frustration is with physical tension. The tension you feel can increase these feelings in your body resulting in mounting emotions. To reverse the physical effects of frustration, release the stress in your body.

Try these calming methods when you're feeling tense:

  • Take deep breaths. When your breath shortens, make a conscious effort to inhale and exhale slowly and deeply for four seconds at a time. This can help slow your heart rate and allow you to return to a state of calm.

  • Accept that you're feeling frustrated. When you accept that you're frustrated you can work on managing your frustration.

  • Keep your voice level. A calm voice can calm others during high anxiety moments, de-escalating the problem.

  • Maintain positive thoughts. Positive thinking can help you remain patient and focused on your goal.

  • Separate yourself. If you feel anger increasing, separate yourself from the cause of the frustration and return when you're feeling calmer.

Related: 17 Ways To Stay Calm at Work

Evaluate the situation

Determine whether the issue testing your patience is worth the emotion it's provoking. Remember your long-term career goals and how your emotional responses help you reach them. When obstacles arise, look for possible solutions.

Moments of anxiety can be a sign that your project needs more research, time or resources. When another person is the trigger for your impatience, practice active listening and empathy. Listening to their concerns as they talk and responding appropriately can help relieve tense situations.

Related: Why Empathy in the Workplace Is Important

Take care of basic needs

It can be difficult to focus on your higher goals when our basic needs for safety and survival aren't being met. Things like getting enough food and sleep are necessary for optimal brain function.

When you're hungry or tired, your judgment can become clouded. If you're feeling restless or irritable in situations where you normally thrive, ask yourself if you've covered your basic needs.

The stress of pursuing long-term goals can keep you from engaging in enjoyable activities outside of work. Try embracing a hobby and taking time away from work. Outside interests can re-energize your passion for work.

Related: The Best Skills for Increasing Your Employability

Develop a positive growth mindset

A growth mindset is one where you believe that you can improve your abilities through consistent work. Sometimes, you may find the solution to your problem requires a new way of thinking or a different skill set, which you can focus on developing with this mindset. Here are some tips to develop a positive growth mindset:

  • Create a strategic plan and personal vision statement to help you stay focused on your goals.

  • Repeat positive affirmations to encourage your subconscious to generate more positive thoughts.

  • Learn to focus on and reward yourself for hard work, instead of just end results.

  • View all challenges as opportunities to learn.

  • Acknowledge that imperfections aren't indications of capabilities.

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