How much can you (for)bear? Picture and pun totally intentional!

How do you rate your tolerance levels?  What will you tolerate, and what will you not tolerate?  When does it get to the stage where you say, with a nod to the grammatically passionate amongst you, “Up with this I will not put!”

Tolerance: your choice
Tolerance, as a behaviour,  is something you can choose to do.  If you look at your own levels of tolerance, you will see that by and large, they will be influenced by your individual beliefs and values system; by what is important to you.  Ask yourself: do your levels of tolerance define you as a person? Does your tolerance level vary from work other social situations?

At work, outside work: what are the expectations?
In the workplace, our behaviour tends to be governed by the social structure and culture there.  If you are in a management position, part of your job may be to motivate your team and ensure that they deliver a quality service. You are expected to lead by example, and this may require high levels of tolerance from you in terms of  how you respond to demands from others and to their behaviour.

But surely, there are behaviours which cannot be tolerated anywhere?  Extreme behaviour from someone in the workplace tends to be tolerated if it is rare, but someone whose behaviour is consistently volatile, or, alternatively, who exhibits poor focus, attendance, or lack of commitment, can be very disruptive to a workplace.  It then tends to fall to the manager to set the tolerance level, and address the issue.  But what if your tolerance levels are higher, or lower than the rest of the team?  And, if you do not have management responsibility, does that mean your tolerance level is dictated by the lowest, or highest common denominator within your team?

Outside of work, do you find you tolerate views and opinions of friends and family differently?  Are your boundaries wider, and if you really think about it, is that ok?  No rights or wrongs here, I’m just asking you to think about it!

Tolerance as a positive force
The noun tolerance is linked to a large group of very positive and constructive attitudes: compassion, sensitivity, respect, patience, equality.  If you practise tolerance when relating to others, even when confronting situations you find challenging, the outcome is much more likely to be a favourable one for you.

As a manager, it’s your responsibility to set the tone within the team, and to be a role model.  When, by being tolerant, you demonstrate fortitude, resilience, stamina and strength, these are all great qualities for anyone.  But as manager, colleague or friend, being tolerant does not  mean tolerating  situations which compromise others’ well-being: that’s apathy.  There are also situations which require zero tolerance, and that’s a discussion for another platform.

Inside, or outside the workplace, to practise tolerance means to be aware of both your own, and your tribe’s strengths and to be able to understand behaviour in order to manage relationships and to get the best out of everyone, yourself included.

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About Marianna Beckwith