Lesson 2 of 7 - learn to communicate effectively

Response Options to
 An Impatient Person

By Peter K. Gerlach, MSW

Member NSRC Expert's Council

The Web address of this article is http://sfhelp.org/cx/apps/impatient.htm

Updated  09-29-2015

      Clicking underlined links here will open a new window. Other links will open  an informational popup, so please turn off your browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site. If your playback device doesn't support Javascript, the popups may not display. Follow underlined links after finishing this article to avoid getting lost.

      This is one of a series of brief articles on how to respond effectively to annoying social behavior. An effective response occurs when you get your  primary needs met well enough, and both people feel heard and respected enough.

      This article suggestions how to respond effectively (a) when you are impatient with someone, and (b) when someone is annoyingly impatient with you. The article assumes you're familiar with...

  • the intro to this Web site and the premises underlying it  

  • self-improvement Lessons 1 and 2

  • basic options for all responses

  • how to give effective feedback to someone

  • effective assertion and empathic listening skills.

What's the Problem?

      Local or chronic impatience in a child or adult can be annoying depending on how and when they express it.. Their attitude and actions can seem self-centered, rude, abrupt, loud, cross, gruff, irritated, frustrated, critical, whiney, and/or and disrespectful. Such behaviors suggest they're controlled by a false self which is probably unaware of themselves, your needs, and the process between you.

      Your reactions to behaviors like these can be effective or not, depending on you and your relationship. If a false self controls you, your subselves may feel one or more of these...

  • guilty (I'm responsible for the impatience)

  • defensive (I'm feeling blamed)

  • nervous or anxious (something bad may/will happen)

  • scornful (stop complaining and do something)

  • numb and/or resigned (here we go again)

  • concerned (how can I help?)

  • detached (it's your problem, not mine)

  • annoyed (I'm so tired of your attitude and behavior!)

  • hurt (you don't care about what I feel and need)

  • (something else)

Expressing any of these impulsively can lower your self-esteem, promote conflict, and degrade your relationship. What's an effective response to someone's  impatient behaviors?

Response Options

      This YouTube clip provides perspective on effective confrontations. It mentions eight sellf-improvement lesso0ns in this Web site - I've simp-lifie2d that to seven:

      First, recall the definition of an effective response. Try saying your definition out loud now. Then...


      Breathe and take a moment to become aware of several things...

  • whether your true Self is guiding you. If not, refocus on achieving that;

  • the other person's behavior and specifically how it affects you - e.g. "I feel annoyed and disrespected by the way you're expressing your impatience," vs. "You really annoy me."

  • whether the other person seems controlled by a false self. If so, review these options and lower your expectations of being heard and respected now.

      And notice...

  • if you feel mutual respect now. If you don't, a false self probably dominates you; and may cause an ineffective response;

  • your current focus (2-person ''awareness bubble'' or not?); and...

  • what you need right now - in general, and from your current communication.

      If your Self guides you and you feel your and the other person's needs are equally important (including kids!), consider saying one or more of these...


  • Intentionally focus on now, and avoid bringing up the past and/or several current/old problems at once;

  • Ask the person if s/he's open to feedback from you. Asking is a sign of respect. If s/he isn't open, look for another time rather than imposing your needs;

  • Affirm the person's behavior briefly with friendly eye contact and without judgment. That can sound like

 "(Name), it looks/sounds like you're pretty impatient/frustrated right now."

Then wait for their reaction,

  • Calmly use a respectful I-message. That might sound like...

"(Name), when you growl and swear (or whatever) like that, I feel irritated (or whatever). And/or...

  • Ask What do you need right now?" and/or "What's bothering you?"

Then give the person a brief hearing check to affirm that you hear them.

  • If the other person is impatient with you, you can:

  • say what you need, and see if s/he will problem-solve with you; and/or...

  • note that you two have a values conflict, and seek to compromise or agree to disagree; and/or...

  • calmly assert some limit or enforceable consequence if s/he  chooses not to respect your needs. That can sound ;like

"(Name), if you choose to keep nagging / criticizing / threatening me (etc.) about _____, I'm going to stop listening / leave the room / (do something else)."

And/or you may...

  • apologize if you've unintentionally frustrated the person.

      Whatever your response, expect "resistance," (arguing, complaining, blustering, defocusing, denying, etc); use empathic listening to acknowledge it respectfully and calmly, and then repeat your original response briefly and clearly. Repeat this sequence as often a you need to until something changes.

      How do these examples compare with the way you usually respond when someone is impatient around or with you? Do you feel responses like these would probably be effective?  


      This is one of a series of brief articles suggesting effective ways to respond to common annoying social behaviors. This article suggests that the way a person expresses their impatience can be irritating, and offers a framework for responding effectively to such behavior.

      The response framework is based on...

  • keeping your true Self in charge,

  • maintaining a mutual-respect attitude,

  • clarity on your personal rights, and...

  • fluency in the skills of awareness, assertion, and empathic listening.

+ + +

      Pause, breathe, and reflect - why did you read this article? Did you get what you needed? If not, what do you need? Who's answering these questions - your true Self, or ''someone else''?

 This article was very helpful  somewhat helpful  not helpful   

Share/Bookmark  Prior page  /  Lesson 2 


site intro  /  course outline  /  site search  /  definitions  /  chat  contact