Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Patience And The Untold Story

There's been a great deal written lately about the power of storytelling. Most of it in terms of how great stories can help us connect with our audiences or more clearly illustrate our point. But I believe we should be mindful of the stories we may never be told as well.

I've found myself looking at people through a different lens lately. For every person I see, I try to imagine for a moment what brought them to live where they do. How they chose their job or whether their job chose them. I think about the influences in their lives (the stories) that have shaped how they view the world. I realize I know nothing about who they are.

Compound that with not knowing what may have happened in their lives on a particular day - events that may cause them to be either jovial, indifferent, or angry at the world. And in fairness, those people do not understand what's happening in our worlds either. These powerful, untold stories impact our interactions with everyone we meet, each and every day.

What does any of this have to do with client service? Well, a great deal actually. If by realizing the power of the untold story, we can show a bit more patience with one another, then we'll be the richer for it. Before reacting impatiently ourselves or responding negatively to what you interpret to be a terse remark, take a moment to consider what you may not understand.

The Chinese word for patience is phonetically pronounced as ren. It's expressed with a combination of two characters: the blade of the knife and the heart, symbolizing how difficult it can be to demonstrate true patience. "Patience is the strength of the mind and heart." Imagine a world where everyone was just a bit more patient. Consider how this may be relevant to your life and share your story with us.


  1. Leo, The incalculable value in what people don't express directly sounds like a new frontier for exploration. Introducing patience is particularly noteworthy now in a climate of intensifying information clutter. Wonder if anyone up there in the medical mecca is studying and/or quantifying the health benefits of patience. Good post. Thanks. Kate

  2. Leo,

    I often hear people use the word 'Tolerance' for the behaviour of others. "Tolerance is a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own."( and while that might be an admiral means or way of dealing with some ideas you don't agree with, I tend to shy away from the word tolerance as it pertains to behaviours.

    I am much fonder of your finding patience as it speaks to less objective and a more intimate understanding and compassion for another human being.

    Most people (with the exclusion of the clinically ill) enter their day, their world and their interactions with good intentions, rarely is someone "out to tick you off". They do, however, react to events based on history and events in their lives. Jack Canfield has a lovely equation he uses "E+R=O" Event + Reaction = Outcome. If you wish to change an outcome then change your reaction to an event!

    Perhaps, as you suggest, we can change our reactions to others for a much more compassionate and considerate outcome in our relationships and dealings with others. Perhaps they'll find more patience for us in return when we are having an "off" day!

  3. Thanks to you both for your comments. I too can't stand the word tolerance. The idea for example that one would simply "tolerate" another person or another person's views is hardly very laudable.

  4. Leo, having the kind of patience you describe is the only way any good consultant can get through each day.

  5. Agreed. Also, if we're patient enough to listen and look for the why behind the what, it can make our jobs easier as well!



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