The office can certainly be a stressful place. Deadlines. Phones ringing. Meetings. Just the normal routine is enough to raise your stress levels. But when you don’t have complete control of your project, well, you can quickly lose control of your emotions.
Patience is one of the hardest skills to master for any employee. Most jobs rely on at least some form of cooperation with co-workers and that’s where the problems fall. You’re fast and efficient. You’re ready to crunch those numbers and hand those monthly reports in. But you can’t. Not until Bill in accounting gives you his final numbers. And he’s two days late. Again. Sometimes, you just can’t take it anymore.
Whether it’s waiting on information from a co-worker or someone simply not understanding your directions even though you painfully explained the procedure to them umpteen times already, stress is a part of life. It seems to thrive quite well in an office environment too. But rather than getting all steamed up to the point you just can’t take it anymore, there are plenty of things you can do to calm the beast within.
Identifying your triggers is a great start. Realize what sets your impatience meter off and try to avoid those situations as best you can. That’s not always doable, though. So when you feel your patience slipping through your fingers, try some of these tactics:
- Just breathe. Take some deep slow breaths, in and out. This will help slow your heart rate down and hopefully take your mind temporarily off your trigger.
- Count to 10. Similar to deep breaths, this will slow you and your heart rate down, and more importantly clear your mind. If you’re really hot under the collar, count higher or do a few sets of 10.
- Relax your shoulders. You can do this one standing up or right in your desk chair. Just raise your shoulders and hold for three seconds, then slowly drop them down. Repeat a number of times until you feel the tension leave your body.
- Cut back on the caffeine. We know it’s tough. Those late nights and early mornings make it impossible to keep your eyelids open. But cutting down on the caffeine will make you far less irritable and in return, way more patient.
- Look at the big picture. Try to take a step back and realize that the person who’s late may have a valid reason. They’re most likely not doing anything to intentionally annoy you. A different angle on your situation may help you understand better and not be so quick to get annoyed..
- Keep a record. Every you time you start feeling yourself grow impatient, mark it down. Tally up the totals at the end of the day, then the week, then the month. Just being aware of how often you’re losing your patience is a big first step.
- Plan ahead. Once you’re aware of your triggers, do your best to avoid them, or to help offset them. If you know your co-worker is always two days late with an assignment, then next time around give him a fake deadline two days earlier.
- Take a walk. Head outside your building and take a walk around the block. The fresh air will do you good; you’ll have time to cool down a bit, and by the time you return, you’ll be a few minutes closer to having your problem solved.
- Be a teacher. You may have talked to this person multiple times already but he keeps making the same mistakes with every assignment. Try to explain to him why you get so frustrated and impatient. Spell it out, but be sure to remove all emotion from your discussion. Just lay it out matter of factly, and hopefully he’ll get it and perhaps be a bit better the next time around.
- Get a stress ball. Keep a stress ball in your desk (or on it!) and any time you feel your patience slipping away, give the ball a squeeze.
- Hit the gym. If you can swing it, head over to your local gym during lunch and blow off some steam. You’ll get your frustration out and the endorphins will kick in to help relieve some of your stress as well.
- Practice yoga. Start taking yoga classes or get in the habit of performing some yoga moves at home. This will relax you in general, and also teach you some positions you can try at the office when you start feeling hot under the collar.
How do you keep your patience at work?