How patient are you? Me? I consider myself extremely patient. Until I’m not.


I’ve been receiving training in patience from my computer(s). Their desire to stay connected to the internet wavers for no reason at all. I’m the writer! I’m supposed to be all temperamental and unreliable, not my computers. But years of conditioning have taught me to take a deep breath and click ‘connect’ until my computer(s) obey. I do this while sipping my coffee, typing a text message or doing some paperwork (on real paper).

Where did this years of conditioning come from? Living abroad. It’s a simple and as complicated as that. I had to learn, very quickly, that making myself understood required a lot of patience and attention. When I listened, really listened, to what the person was trying to communicate to me, understanding came much quicker. Explaining myself in simple, clear terms have honed my communication skills to ensure minimum misunderstanding and quick results. Losing patience never got me the help I needed to find a doctor, buy needed medicine, find electrical wire, coffee filters or nail polish remover.

perplexed air traffic controller

But there were plenty of times I felt like one these two pictures! These are two great examples of nonverbal communication cues shouting impatience. The top one is obviously angry where the one to the right a perfect WTF moment. That is me when I’m in the car and the person in front of me doesn’t pull away the moment the light turns green. I really don’t understand why I could be patient with so many other things, but waiting for one second at a green light? Unacceptable!!

More (but not all)  nonverbal cues for impatience:

  • Shifting weight restlessly – sitting or standing
  • Sighing or deep breathing
  • Eye rolling (observed more frequently with the less-subtle teenagers)
  • Bouncing a knee, tapping a foot or drumming fingers on a surface
  • Feet shifting away from you
  • Body moving towards the exit
  • Over-enthusiastic nodding (they get it and want to you make your point)
  • Micro-expressions of contempt

Remember that all of the above must be read in context! Sometimes a cue that could be understood as impatience is actually boredom, anger or another emotion. And some of these emotions are so closely related, that we don’t always have to separate them.

What pushes your buttons? What is that ONE thing that chases away your zen-ness?


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