Before we begin…
Patience is not simply the ability to wait—it’s how we behave while we’re waiting. – Joyce Meyer
Read the following scenario, completing the session questions where indicated. Be prepared to discuss your answers with other learners.
This is a continuation of the last scenario. Here is a quick recap:
- You woke up early to get to an important job interview.
- Due to heavy traffic and other road conditions, you arrive much later than you had hoped.
- You do your best to find a parking spot, but someone cuts you off.
- You find a parking spot across the street and need to run to the building, or you will be late.
- While in the crosswalk, you accidently knock a woman down. (Did you take the time to help her?)
- You make it to the receptionist on time for the interview; however, your interviewer is running late. It turns out someone knocked her down in the crosswalk.
- Smith, your interviewer, recognizes you and heads to her office to get cleaned up before meeting with you.
In the last scenario, did you stop to help Mrs. Smith? Regardless of whether you helped or not, you are still responsible for knocking her down. Which of the following are you feeling while you wait?
- I stopped to help her. She must see that as a good thing.
- I didn’t stop to help her. She must think some very bad things about me.
- I told her I was sorry. She knows accidents happen. She can’t be that angry.
- I am the reason she got knocked down. She must be angry.
- I still have a great chance of getting this job.
- I should leave now. No way I am getting this job. ______________________________________________________
You remind yourself that punctuality is important to this company. Even if you did accidentally knock down Mrs. Smith, you were at least punctual. As you wait, you notice the strange looks that the receptionist is giving you. Did Mrs. Smith say something? Is the receptionist judging you?
You have been waiting for at least 8 minutes or so when the receptionist stands and walks to the door.
“Please follow me. I will be showing you to your interview room,” the receptionist says as she opens the door for you to follow. As you pass her, she also points to your hair. “You seem to have a leaf in your hair.” This must be the reason she was looking at you the way she was.
Wrestling with feelings like guilt, embarrassment, and shame can color our perceptions of a given situation. In what ways might this have happened in this interaction?
Had you been in this situation, how would you have handled things differently?
How does stress affect your patience?
As the receptionist leads the way back to your interview room, you watch the employees going about their day. For the most part it looks like everyone is enjoying their work and their colleagues. As you continue to follow the receptionist, you hear a group of employees laughing with one another in the distance. Everything you are experiencing just impresses on you the importance of this interview. And you knocked down your interviewer! You silently hope this interview goes well. This looks like an amazing place to work.
Finally, the receptionist opens a glass door to a room surrounded mostly in glass walls so that people inside the conference room can look out at the rest of the office.
“Please wait here. Mrs. Smith will be with you as soon as she is able,” the receptionist says while handing you a customary bottled water. The conference room looks like it could easily accommodate 15 to 20 people. There is a sign on the door as you entered that reads, “No cell phone usage in the conference room.” Feeling a bit awkward in such a large room by yourself, you choose a seat that faces the glass door and wait.
You are waiting to meet Mrs. Smith to convince her that you will be a value to the company. What thoughts and emotions are you dealing with and why?
How does seeing the work environment impact your feelings about the interview? Are you more stressed due to the pressure to impress? Are you encouraged by the prospect of working here? Explain why you feel the way you do.
You have now waited at least 20 minutes in this enormous glass-walled room by yourself. In that time no one has come in to say anything to you. What about that whole punctuality thing?
You have moved from one chair to another trying to get a little more comfortable, but nothing seems to be working. You just sit and watch people move around the office talking and enjoying themselves. No one even seems to notice you as you wait in the conference room alone.
You can’t help but imagine that this is what a fish must feel like in a fishbowl. You are tempted to use your phone to pass the time, but you remember that the sign on the door says, “No cell phone usage in the conference room.” Surely that only means no voice calls, but the sign does have the word “usage.” Is this some kind of punishment for knocking Mrs. Smith down in the crosswalk? Have they forgotten about you?
If you were in this scenario, what would you do and why? How would you be feeling?
Optional Experiment: Set a timer for 20 minutes and DO NOTHING. Then, answer the following questions:
- Did you make it the full 20 minutes? How did you feel?
- What did you feel yourself gravitating toward in order to fill in the empty time?
- What role does patience play in your life? Do you value it? Why or why not?
After an additional 10 minutes of waiting, Mrs. Smith enters the room and you stand up to greet her.
She says, “Thank you for waiting. I know it is uncomfortable for a lot of people to go through that, but it is helpful for us. Anyone who comes out of the conference room during this part of the interview is sent home. We however make a point to never have anyone wait for more than 30 minutes. It’s the first part of the process, and you have passed.”
Mrs. Smith sits down at the table and gestures for you to do the same. As you do, she opens her computer and begins the formal interview process.
“Patience is an important attribute, we think, especially in today’s culture. In fact, we believe it is a competitive advantage, which is one reason we screen every applicant by making them wait.”
“What about punctuality?” you ask, remembering one of the other main attributes of the company.
“Great question,” Mrs. Smith says with a smile. “Punctuality is very important. It shows that you value the person you are meeting.
Life, however, has a way of getting in the way of our best-laid plans and therefore grace and patience come into play. After all, you never know when traffic will get in your way, the parking lot might be filled, or you run into an unexpected pedestrian in the crosswalk outside your office building.”
Mrs. Smith gives you a brief, playful smile. It is obvious to you that all is forgiven for your incident in the crosswalk.
Mrs. Smith continues, “I am sure you have heard the phrase, ‘If you want something, are you willing to wait for it?’ Do you agree with that idea? What is the value of patience in life?”
How did your thoughts and feelings change from the beginning of the scenario to the end?
In what way does your stress level impact your interaction with others?
How might your personal life be changed if you exercised more patience in your personal and work environments?
Discuss the quote at the beginning of the session. What do you think the speaker meant by this? How can you apply this quote in your personal or work life?