How to Deal with Impatient People

We all know someone who is impatient most of the time. They want everything immediately…and to be perfect. It’s challenging to work with these people because their impatience and frustration often makes us feel stressed and anxious. When you have to work with someone who is impatient, for example, a coworker, another volunteer, a significant other or even a friend, these are some ways you can manage their impatience in a positive way.

Avoid Belittling Their Feelings

Saying things like, “take a chill pill” or “calm down” will only increase their anger and frustration. Those types of phrases make it sound like they are getting upset for no reason. Even though that may be the case in your opinion, pointing it out to them when they are already upset is not going to solve the problem, but rather, fan the flames.

Ask How You Can Help

The need to hurry to meet a deadline or having more tasks than we can possibly get done causes us all to get impatient. If you are working with someone who tends to get overwhelmed easily, which turns into impatience and anger, when you feel their tolerance being tested, ask them if you can be of any help. This acknowledges that they are stressed, which sometimes is just what they need–to know they are appreciated.

Or, it may open an opportunity for them to vent, without blowing up. Even if you have to listen to a short complaint session, you can feel good about defusing the situation. Finally, they may actually take you up on it and ask you to do something to help get the tasks finished or the deadline met.

Ask to Take a Break

If the impatient person is trying to teach you something, for example, and you can feel their frustration building, ask them to take a short break. Tell them you need some fresh air or a coffee refill. This pause in the task can disrupt their cycle of irritation so that you can both come back with a new attitude.

Explain How It Affects You

You shouldn’t have to be expected to just deal with their impatience. But it’s important to take care of what language you use when discussing the situation with the impatient person so they don’t feel attacked. This will only make the situation worse.

If you feel stressed out when your supervisor micromanages you and makes you feel rushed, for instance, try saying something like, “I feel stressed out when I need to give you hourly updates on my progress on this project. It’s a big project that requires my undivided attention and several days. Can we agree that I will update you on the status twice daily. That way I can find a natural break in my rhythm and still keep you informed.” Notice the focus is on “I” which keeps the conversation from becoming a blame game.