2008-04-11 2:09 PM

Patience Young Padawan

I am amazed at how much difference the role we play makes in our style and quality of interaction.

This week I was listening to a Q&A session where I was playing the role of student. The person playing the role of teacher spent five minutes at the beginning laying out the ground rules that basically boiled down to “stay on topic” and “respect everyone’s time”. Within 10 minutes someone took the floor in the guise of asking a question only to admit she hadn’t read the materials then spent five minutes thanking the teacher for all that he has done. I was incredulous. Four hours later after many similar distractions I was yelling at the recording in disbelief at a particularly passionate set of people who had spun the conversation off topic for a good portion of the call.

Once I recognized the futility of my state I was able to step away from the situation and analyze what was really happening. I then realized that when I have been in the teacher role I have demonstrated as much patience as this teacher was demonstrating. I realized that I responded to the same basic behavior differently depending on my role. I had a tendency to respond

  • gently when it came from one of my students,
  • brusquely when it came from family or friends, and
  • harshly when it came from a student peer.

Here is where you could start digging to find “causes”, “reasons why”, and other rationalizations. I prefer to skip all that and focus on changing any unwanted behaviors directly, then check whether anything else is warranted. In this situation it has been enough to become aware of this disparity and allow myself to take a moment and consider how appropriate my reaction is (or is not) — independent of the role I am playing.

Where today can you allow yourself (and others) a moment of consideration?
What resources do you have available when you are in a different role?

Posted by Wayne Buckhanan 1 Comment »

One Comment on “Patience Young Padawan”

  1. Chris Shouse Says:

    I work for an airlines in baggage service. It can be a very stressful job. I do not blame people for being a bit upset that their baggage is not there but most of the time with a scanning system I can tell them where their bags are and when I tell them exactly what time their bag will be there and that it will be delivered and then they still act as if the end of the world has happened I lose patience. I have found something that has helped me me keep my great customer service voice. Joe Vitale wrote about a Dr. who went to Hawaii to treat a hospital full of psycotic people how he went in and while he never met with them in person only talked to their files and what he said over and over again is “I’m sorry I love you” I have now made myself a sign that says just that and it is on the computer at work. When I have a passenger that just will not calm down I say that phrase over and over in my mind and it calms me right down and I think the passenger also feels it and usually by the time they leave the office have calmed down and I can have them laughing. It is a good feeling.

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