Do you suffer from low frustration tolerance?

Posted: 21st September, 2022 in Case Studies, Communications, Customer Service, Motivation, Personal effectiveness, Tips & Tricks, Training and mentoring

Sometime ago, I read a quotation from the well-known author Brian Treacy that said, “Stress comes from within: It is your reaction to the circumstances, not the circumstances themselves”. 

One could argue that we should heed Brian’s advice. However, when you consider how difficult life has been for many over the past couple of years, the reality is that many people experience varying levels of anxiety and for many different reasons.

Thankfully, we have had a greater sense of normality for some time now as people are back to business, mingling and socialising just like old times. Yet, I sense there is still a “hangover” of anxiety lingering for some people.

In Autumn 2020, I attended a very insightful webinar entitled “Self-Care and Emotional Resilience” with the renowned GP, Doctor Harry Barry – an expert on subjects around anxiety, depression, stress and resilience. 

Doctor Barry talked about the impact Covid19 was having on mental health. Sadly, he said that people had become more worried and developed what he described as LFT; otherwise known as “low frustration tolerance”. What he indicated was that people were becoming more easily agitated and could over-react. They would blow a fuse over the simplest of things or if things didn’t go their way.

Recently I started to think about my own tolerance levels once again. I quickly realised that perhaps we are all still suffering a bit of LFT – especially in the wake of the pandemic. We’re probably not just experiencing it as the customer, but also as the service provider and even in our day-to-day experiences. 

As an advocate for providing “great customer experiences” it concerns me. Also, from a health perspective, we need to pay attention too. Otherwise, moods will sag, tempers will fray and people will get highly stressed and quite ill.

As human beings we like to think we are logical, rational and reasonable. Yet we are frequently driven by emotion and see things from our own perspective. I believe most people have good intentions; however, we can get caught up in the routine of doing our job and rarely stop to think.

Our thoughts come out through our behaviour and we become unaware of how we communicate with others. So, when we develop impatience and intolerance, we act in a way that seems acceptable and justifiable to us. Yet, we are oblivious to how this affects others.

Unbeknownst to us, our biased reactions can influence customers in a negative way. It’s a snowball effect that can create more hassle for everyone. Service levels drop, people become more irritable and customers are left disgruntled. Sometimes we don’t even notice the knock-on effect it has on a business or our mental health until it is too late.

I really believe we have a choice to how we behave and the attitude we wish to adopt. To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude”. To gain more positive outcomes, my advice is…

  • Be kind to yourself and take time out daily. Get plenty of sleep, avoid negativity, go for a walk, exercise and get fresh air. 
  • Accept uncertainty and focus on what you can do in your life, rather than what you can’t do.
  • Stop catastrophizing – lots of people have been living in fear. They imagine things to be worse than they are. Each time you feel afraid, ask yourself is it “certain”? How bad is it really? Is it actually going to happen? If you are honest with yourself, you’ll find it’s never really that bad.
  • Learn to develop empathy - put yourself in the shoes of the customer and look at things from their perspective.
  • Respond rather than react - think before you speak and be mindful of how your message may be perceived.
  • It’s not a blame game - stay open minded and accept that misunderstanding can easily happen. 
  • People will often have different priorities and opinions.  Be patient, show kindness and tolerance - you will be surprised how receptive people will be to you.
  • When you get a positive reaction, let yourself really feel it and boldly tell everyone about it (rather than focusing on the negative encounters)
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