Patient or Pushover? Where’s the Line?

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I’ve learned this year that the Terrible Twos have nothing on the Terrible Threes. Nothing. I’ve read and read, and even sought counseling from our pediatrician on how best to handle these trying times. It’s puzzling. My child is very well behaved at school, so they tell me. Both sets of Grandparents rave about the adorable manners used and affectionate demeanor displayed. In fact, in a single parent situation the tantrums are minimal. Why is it that this terror of a demon is unleashed upon our house when all four of us are at home?

I’m told that these tantrums decrease with age. After spending ten years in the workforce I’m beginning to question this. While I haven’t seen an adult hold their breath and stomp their feet, I have been privy to the silent treatment, yelling, name calling, and the occasional rude gesture.

Our pediatrician advised us to choose our battles. “You want “No” to have impact. If the child hears “No” all the time then they become numb to the word. Be conscious of when you chose to use it.” But where’s the line, I wondered? How do I make sure I set limits for children but don’t over indulge with the use of “No”? We discussed this and she suggested ways in which I could draw boundaries with the use of alternative words.

It wasn’t a day later that I sat in a sales meeting and heard myself snap at an entire sales team. I spoke with my manager later and he suggested that I choose my battles. I explained to him that week after week I hear the same complaints, directed at me, by these very people. I practiced patience for a month but reached my limit. I asked the same question to him that I did to my pediatrician. “I want to be patient”, I explained, “but I don’t want to be a pushover”. Where’s the line? And just like my pediatrician, he suggested that I focus on word choice and tone of voice.

Below are 5 suggestions for practicing patience, and avoiding pushover status with your kids and colleagues.

1. Acknowledge what they’re upset about, and then offer an alternative activity.
“I know you’re mad they didn’t follow chain of command. Let’s review the processes to ensure everyone understands.”

2. Don’t always respond with “No”. Try phrasing your objection in a positive way.
“If we allow everyone administrative permissions we open ourselves up to a security risk.”

3. Watch your tone of voice. People react to tone and body language more than words.

4. Don’t use withholding as a form of punishment. Neutralize the situation and take a time out.
“I’m not going to remove you from the project. Let’s take a brake and discuss a possible resolution after lunch.”

5. Remember what the cause of the tantrum is. Don’t focus on behavior that results after the tantrum.
“Are you upset that I didn’t acknowledge your contribution in today’s staff meeting, or are you frustrated that the project failed?”

How do you practice patience without being a pushover?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
2 Responses to "Patient or Pushover? Where’s the Line?"
  1.' AdamMargolin says:

    I am a fan of your blog… it fits very much with my thinking! 

  2.' AdamMargolin says:

    I am a fan of your blog… it fits very much with my thinking! 
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