Every now and then we meet people who are impatient. Impatience get to us. Especially if you stutter. You begin to think that your talk is causing the impatience. That it’s your fault the person you’re talking to is impatient. In this post, we address practical tools to handle impatient people.
Imagine you are walking down the street talking with your buddy Eric. Suddenly you and Eric meets a friend. He is very impatient. Can’t stop looking at the clock when you speak. Eyes flickering. And he yawns! His impatience get to you. Then you think: Why doesn’t he look at you? Why does he only speak with Eric? Anxiety kicks in. It’s my fault. Stomachaches. Shivering. You stutter more and more. Feelings of hate and inadequacy come up. Now he doesn’t even notice you. Now you are conscious about your talk. You think. You think too much. Then you stop talking because you feel embarrassed. Eric and the new guy hits it off. The new guy leaves. Motherfucker. The conversation is over. It only took 5 minutes. Except it isn’t over. Like a casualty in a battle, a tiny bit of you got damaged. Your self-confidence took hits. You are not the same person leaving the conversation as when you entered. You hate yourself and your stuttering. But you hate the new guy the most. Who is he to judge you?
On the outside the situation is a classic 2-dimensional view of things.
When the new guy acted impatiently and left in a hurry, he executed an action (event) and that action had consequences for you. The consequence was, that you felt bad about yourself and your stuttering. But you also hate him a bit. Next time you meet him, you’re not likely to talk with him. It’s not your fault, that you feel this way. Most people don’t look under the “hood”.
Under the hood are beliefs and goals.
Peter Senge, author of The 5th discipline, has several archetypes describing different problems. The archetype “Shifting the burden” is a perfect example of what’s also happening in you when you encounter an impatient person.
Here’s the explanation.
The main point is that you apply symptomatic solutions (stop talking) when you should carry on talking and alter your beliefs about why the other guy is impatient. We’ll address the fundamental solutions later on.
The impatient mind
I’ll admit, I never thought about what happened in the other guy’s mind, when I stuttered. I was too preoccupied with my own things. Of cause I had much to think about. I constantly thought about my talk. Not much memory left to think about how the other guy felt or what happened in his mind. But as a former stutterer, I got memory left.
Let’s narrow it down. This is Merriam-Webster’s definition of “impatient”:
- not willing to wait for something or someone
- wanting or eager to do something without waiting
- showing that you do not want to wait
Why did the new guy leave in such a hurry? Did you think of that? Now we go back to the same situation as before. Look from the outside. You and your friend Eric meet a friend’s friend. Let’s call the new guy John. He appeared out of the blue. That got you excited. And what happens when you get excited or startled? Anxiety kicks in. Automatic thoughts kick in. Your script for meeting new people is:
When I meet new people, I stutter because they make me conscious about how I talk.
So you were already psyching yourself 5 seconds into the conversation. Look how your eyes flicker. Now you begin to look into the ground. What did you do that for? Well, that’s what I do! Okay, alright. Let’s move on.
You’re standing there stuttering, not making eye contact. Do you think he got a bit anxious about the whole setting? Maybe he didn’t have time because he had to catch a train?
Understanding the setup for impatience
Let’s assume he had to catch a train. That was his goal because otherwise, he would be late for his date with his new girlfriend. And his new girlfriend is very jealous. She thinks he is screwing around if he is late. So the situation of meeting old friends is part of his impatience, when he, in fact, is in a hurry.
John estimated the walk from his apartment to the train station would take about 10 minutes. Then he meets you and Eric. Now his time schedule is off.
But the condition itself is not what triggers his impatience The condition is the setup. It’s all facts concerning when, where, and why.
The thing that gets him off, is his knowledge about the jealous girlfriend. He knows she’s going to explode. Again. Like last time he was late. And they are going to have a child together. And he want’s to show he’s a reliable guy. He realized that if he stopped up to chat, he would be late. And if he was late, his girlfriend would be pissed off. And you know what that means.
But you were so preoccupied with your stuttering that you didn’t notice he was late for his train.
What did he do? The easy thing. He didn’t care about you or your stutter. His mind was busy calculating how fast he should be running to catch the train. He quickly said goodbye to you and Eric. Off he was.
It wasn’t because of your stuttering, that he was impatient. It was the unexpected delay.
Your stuttering didn’t have anything to do with him being impatient. You stuttered because that’s what you do, when you unexpected meet new people; when you have to perform out of the blue. It’s your belief system. Your script.
Things to do when meeting an impatient friend
There will always be impatient people. People will have goals to achieve. Delays will occur. Impatience grows and feed on delays. The best thing you can do is making fundamental solutions – not symptomatic. The the following helps you build fundamental solutions so that you are prepared next time you meet an impatient person.
- Take a step back. What beliefs are you executing right now?
- Listen to what his frustration is about. Ask him.
- Be proactive. Say: let’s talk another time when you are not in a hurry.
- Re-frame the guilt. It’s not you, it’s him. He’s the one feeling guilty or angry because of the delay.
- Remember that whatever he does, it’s because of the delay. He is cutting costs to satisfy his goal. It’s not about you or your stuttering.
It’s not you. It’s him.
All in all
Impatience and stress goes hand in hand. When people are under pressure, they tend to get impatient because of their goals and time frame.
A great way for at stutterer to deal with impatient people is to take a step back and look at the situation. Ask questions: Why are you in a hurry? And always remember that it’s the other person that’s stressed because of his time frame. Your stuttering hasn’t anything to do with him being impatient.