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How to Diplomatically Deal With the Impatient

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Impatient people, whether colleagues, managers or customers, can add stress and frustration to your job. This is especially true in positions where attention to detail is critical to ensuring a quality product or service. Stop impatient people from getting the best of you or forcing you to compromise your approach to work by managing expectations, setting firm boundaries and sticking to them.

Establish Timetables

Establish reasonable yet firm timetables with impatient people. Put the timetables in writing and reference them as necessary if you're asked about the status of the project. As long as you’re able to consistently meet established deadlines, the timeline lets you reassure others a project is on track and will be completed as anticipated. If for any reason the timetable gets off track due to unforeseen circumstances, be the first person to let the impatient individual know about the change of plans and issue a new delivery date.

Remain Calm

It’s easy to lose your patience if you're continually badgered about the progress of a project. Keep your cool and don't allow yourself to be ruffled, flustered or distracted by impatient individuals. Be cognizant of others' feelings if you're working in a highly-anticipatory or high-stress industry. For example, if you design custom wedding dresses, it's natural for a bride to be concerned that her gown will be completed correctly and on time. In this type of scenario, employ the help of an assistant to serve as a go-between to reassure anxious customers as necessary.

Establish Workplace Expectations

If you work with people who are regularly impatient about all workplace related matters, the issue should be addressed head-on to avoid developing tension and hostile work relationships. Meet privately with the person you have a problem with and have a direct conversation about the matter. Find a compromise, like providing regular status updates, to keep your colleague apprised of progress and avoid constant, impatient queries.

Offer Reassurances

See things from the impatient person's perspective. If you work as part of a team, and your on-time work product is essential to someone else meeting her own deadlines, that person may be rightfully concerned about your expediency. Determine the core reason for the initial impatient behavior and address it before it manifests itself in an unhealthy way. Offer reassurances and hold your ground when you've established yourself as a responsible and on-time individual. Don't get into the habit of doing unnecessary rush projects for impatient people or you'll get into the habit of rewarding impatient behavior.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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