Working directly with the public on the front desk of a dental practice can at times be infuriating. Added to which the pressures of working to the challenging timetable set out in the appointment book creates time frustrations and leads us to experience the sort of internal turmoil expressed by patients who have been kept waiting. Our professional instincts and training lead us to present a veneer and calm and understanding, but does this lead to problems in other areas of our lives?
Do you ever find that out of work your frustration boils over, such as when supermarket shopping and other people are dawdling, or absent minded people leave trolleys blocking the aisle; its not a working day and you don’t have anywhere in particular to be but instinctively your impatience flares.
A recent survey found that 96% of us in the UK admit to behaving badly due to pressures of time. In America a study has found that chromic impatience, or Time Urgency Impatience (TUI), is a predictor of high stress leading to blood pressure and heart disease. Even at lower levels it can lead us feeling irritable, angry and permanently on edge. The group they found to be most likely to suffer from impatience is professional women.
Low threshold anger and passive aggression are the roots of impatience. Research shows women to be more likely to experience these because they tend to learn at a young age that anger should not be expressed. Then when faced with a combination of workplace pressures, plus those of hectic family lives, parents, partner etc, instead of exploding their anger outwardly, when the pressure builds, they implode and build up resentments which become simmering anger. The side-effects of withheld impatience include physical discomfort, clenched teeth, controlling behaviours, put-downs and sarcasm.
Tips to follow
If you recognise yourself in this scenario, here are some tips to manage your frustration:
• Stop, think and look at the bigger picture. Consider what you will gain from being rude or impatient and what you will lose
• Find positive uses for time spent being delayed – distract yourself from the frustration by using time spent in hold-ups thinking things out. Plan and make literal or mental lists which will make better use of time in the future
• Reframe your impatience. Don’t view the delay as a waste of precious time but as an enforced rest in the middle of a hectic day, just sit back and go with the moment
• Communicate. Every time you feel impatient, tell someone. Expressing rather than suppressing your emotions will become habitual. If you find this difficult then write it down in a journal, you need to stop giving anger space in your head.
Each of us lives our lives in a hectic whirl where multiple frustrations push us to the extremes of our tolerances. For example, we are told that the average UK resident spends 41 hours per year on telephone admin – phoning call centres is the activity that makes us most impatient. This could be because we have become used to immediate gratification such as texting friends and receiving a reply in seconds. The average European abandons a call on hold after 67 seconds, where as in the US it’s only 37 seconds.
Allowing anger and frustration to build-up inside is a recipe for poor physical and mental health. Vigorous exercise is an ideal way to burn off the unwanted chemicals produced by the body at times of stress and frustration, although for many of us this is not a viable option. Therefore Plan B needs to perfect the ability to reframe the anger. By changing our thinking, we can change our internal environment and so make the calm and professional appearance reality.