Patience is a soft skill that enables you to delay taking action until the optimal time.
Patience is can only be learned if you accept that everything does not need to be done immediately. Rarely, there are emergency situations where a snap judgment needs to be made to avert disaster. Typically, however, there is always time to contemplate the best decision before you take action.
The key question a patient person asks themselves is:
“Is now the best time to take action?”
If the answer is “Yes,” the patient person takes action. If the answer is “No,” they do not.
Corporations hard-wire their employees to think faster is better, and that time is money. Employees who don’t take action immediately are labeled as being “Slow” or “Lazy,” where employees who react without thinking get the label of being “Fast” and “Quick-Thinking.” Companies then lament that their employees don’t think holistically and strategically, and don’t see that their faster-is-better culture is the cause.
Ultimately you will have to decide the type of employee you want to be:
- The employee who always jumps at every opportunity as soon as it’s presented.
- The employee who contemplates the implications of their actions before they take them.
Many companies say they prefer the former, and yet unsurprisingly, only the latter tend to get promoted into senior management positions. Managing an organization requires strategic thinking, as every decision must be made with careful consideration of its future impact. This is one of the explanations of the phenomenon of “hard-working” employees never getting promoted: as they have never demonstrated the patience to think strategically, they have not shown their capability to run an organization.
One of the most common outward demonstrations of someone’s patience is them waiting for their turn to speak. Patient people will tend to ask questions and make observations much later in a meeting, and say far less than their eager and impatient colleagues for several reasons:
- They are giving themselves as much time as possible to gather information about what is being discussed.
- They are contemplating if they should say anything at all, and if so, what they should say.
- They are utilizing the fact that people will tend to remember most what is said at the end of a meeting.
These practices will tend to make a patient person and extremely potent force in meetings, as they can definitively conclude a meeting in a single sentence. This is another ability that attracts attention from senior management when they are looking for someone to promote: a person who can settle arguments give direction to a group of people.