There's a common saying "Patience is when you're supposed to get mad, but you choose to understand." As our lives get busier and stress rises, this couldn't be more important. We interact with people every day in both our work and personal lives, and some of them are... well... unique. As much as some individuals make your head want to explode, how you deal with them, specifically the patience you show them, defines your character and can have an extreme impact on your career.
As an IT contractor, your patience is tested every day of your professional life. Just looking for new gigs and waiting to hear back from clients or recruiters requires patience, and trying to explain your background and experience to some of them can be a complete other challenge. While on contract, you need to wait on team members to deliver parts of a project, help others understand concepts that seem basic to you, and stand by for client direction or feedback.
Yes, there is no shortage of opportunities to pull your hair out. But a lack of patience builds up more stress than necessary, rushes things that shouldn't be rushed and, most harmfully, ruins relationships. Strong relationships are not just a necessary component to mental health. Professional connections with people who admire your character and approach to working under pressure are a key component to finding new job opportunities and succeeding in your current role.
So how can we foster patience and develop a reputation as that cool and collective colleague? We checked-in with some experts and scoured the research, and here are our six favourite tips:
Know what you can control. There's no use losing sleep, getting angry, or trying to rush along a process that simply isn't going to go faster. Understanding when to move onto something else and accepting reality is the first step in being patience and reducing stress.
Understand how important it is. And when it is a situation you could potentially control or hurry along, is it really worth it in the big picture? There's only so much capacity we have for worrying so letting go of the less important items gives you patience for the more relevant matters.
Take a break. Whether it's a walk around the block, a phone call to friend, a healthy snack or meditation, take a few minutes to pause and breath. Clearing your mind allows you to gain a new perspective and consider the first two points above (is it in your control or even important?).
Accept the situation. "It is what it is." A saying that drives some people nuts but is also incredibly true. Things are taking longer than expected and you might have to jump through more hoops to get them done, but nothing will change that. Roll-up your sleeves, jump in, and do it.
Befriend the situation. Better yet, don't just accept it, embrace your circumstances. Take on the challenge and remember that you will be a better person. Whether you're waiting for that slow colleague to finish a deliverable or coming up with unique ways to find your next gig, you will learn something if you allow yourself to.
Be aware of your feelings. It's alright to be angry and frustrated. We're human and those emotions are natural, especially when stress is building up. Recognizing those feelings, though, is your first step to controlling them and moving them away. Or consider removing yourself completely until you've regained your patience (see tip #3)
Patience certainly is a virtue and we can all use more of it. It lowers stress levels, improves team dynamics, increases productivity and, above all, builds relationships. How do you manage your patience when you're on the brink of exploding?