Do you tolerate too much?

Jan 26, 2011 by

The Famous Leaning Tower of Pisa
Image by wenzday01 via Flickr

I was part of an interesting discussion as part of a training session last year. We were asked to think about Tolerances. What do we tolerate on a daily basis because it is easier then resolving it. We were asked to go away and think about this over the next week, write out a list and then come back and have tried to deal with one of them. It could be a work area we were allowing to remain cluttered, a conversation we had put off having for fear of the outcome or any number of things.

It was only when I started to consider this for the homework that I realised how many little things, and sometimes big things, we tolerate each day because we have imagined resolving them to be a much bigger task than it is.

This is particularly true of conversations, be they business or personal.

How often do we bite our tongue or carry on in a rut because we don’t feel we can handle the ensuing conversation if we say what we really feel.

I confess to having let this list drop a little, and probably not being totally honest with myself in compiling it, but every now and then I try and revisit it and cross another one off.

There are simple things I tolerate in life, that I should resolve and really will only take a few minutes, but by letting them slide I know that when I do get around to it then it will take longer to resolve than if I had handled it at the time. Yet, again and again I am guilty of this.

Instead of taking five minutes to sort the ironing and deliver it round the corner to the ironing lady I let it gather in that corner till it resembles the Tower of Pisa, why? It’s not as though I am going to do it, and the bigger the pile the less I want to sort it. I just need to get on with it, sort it, and deliver it, it will get rid of the unsightly pile and stop my wardrobe looking so anaemic! It’s a painless and quick fix. Instead I let it sit there, staring at me and frustrating me,

Tidying that desk, that corner, or even just posting that letter are all little things that too often we tolerate rather than fixing. Add a few of these together and they seem like obstacles.

However, the one I suspect most of us tolerate most and put off are the conversations we really need to have.

It’s too easy to accept the status quo for the sake of a quiet life. But does that make you happy? One member of the training session had resented a family member for years, there had always been an atmosphere and it had become one of her tolerations. The fear of what she imagined the conversation would be had prevented her from having the conversation. She decided her homework would be to tackle the family member. She was pleasantly surprised. The conversation wasn’t confrontational at all, it turned out the unpleasantness had arisen from a misunderstanding several years earlier and a simple conversation then would have resolved it, rather than wasted years of unpleasantness. It wasn’t the scary experience she had built up in her mind at all.

How many conversations are you putting off? How many situations are you tolerating for the lack of that conversation? At the end of the day whilst you may imagine the direction of the conversation you are not the other party. You don’t know how it will go. How many times have you had a conversation that you were not looking forward to, only to turn round at the end of it and say to yourself, ‘well that wasn’t as bad as I though!’. I am sure we have all done it.

So write your own list, tackle the easy ones first and see if you can’t make your life that little more pleasant by tolerating less and doing that chore or having that chat.

What have you tolerated and now resolved? What conversation have you had that cleared the air, and made the situation better? I would love to hear examples of how you have stopped tolerating things.

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3 Comments

  1. You’re so right Helen! Your post has spurred me to right some wrongs starting with my home office and a major crack down on anything that’s been on my desk for more than a month untouched!

  2. Helen

    Go for it Sarah! It’s amazing how much difference it makes, I cleared some mini tolerances this week and also had one of the conversations I had been putting off, it’s amazing how often it’s so much easier than you had anticipated. I feel so much better for it now.

  3. I admit I am guilty of this, especially doing daily chores myself to avoid having yet another confrontation about who does the dishes, etc. If I do them myself – properly – then I don’t have have that conversation, but really I know I should take the time to delegate and insist my ‘helpers’ do the job properly too!

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