3 ways you can be more resilient at work


Everyone goes through tough times at work, and in their personal life.  Of course, no one said life would be easy, but some people seem to get through the hard times better than others.  Whilst some people might get brought down by the announcement of a restructure at work or their role being made redundant, others may seem relatively unfazed by the prospect and see it as a new opportunity.  Why is this the case?  One of the key factors at play here is resilience.  This refers to someone’s ability to bounce back from adversity, or to adapt easily when facing difficult times.  Having resilience doesn’t mean that people don’t feel the myriad of emotions that we as humans experience when confronted by hardship, but they are able to more effectively work through these emotions and recover more easily from such events.

We see many great examples of resilience in the sporting world.  Think back to tennis star Monica Seles’ comeback after being stabbed in the back on court by a deranged fan of Steffi Graf back in 1993.  Seles was off the tour for 2 years, and whilst her physical wounds took only a few weeks to heal, the psychological ones went much deeper.  It would have been much easier for Seles to give tennis away, but amazingly, when she re-joined the tour she won her first comeback tournament, and added another grand slam to her trophy cabinet in 1996, the Australian Open.

Although no one wishes for terrible things to happen to them, these experiences can help us to grow, as we deal with challenges we otherwise would not have faced.  They enable us to learn about ourselves and to realise what we are really capable of, and what we are able to overcome.  If we never moved outside our comfort zone, how could we ever realise our true potential?

Contrary to what some people may believe, the truth is that resilience is something that can be learned and developed.  You don’t innately recover any better or worse from setbacks than other people, but rather you learn how to cope more effectively with them as you grow and develop, by discovering the coping strategies that work for you, and the ones that don’t.  There are a number of skills and factors that contribute to higher levels of resilience, including:

  • Having a positive outlook.  This can assist you to focus on what you can learn from the situation and put it into perspective, rather than dwelling on mistakes;
  • Having an internal locus of control.  This means that you believe you have control over events that impact you, and are therefore more likely to act to solve issues and problems, rather than blaming them on external factors that you are unable to do anything about.  That being said, it’s also important to be able to accept what you are unable to control; and
  • Being willing to seek help and support from those around you.  Having a support network that you can rely upon is critical, just knowing that you don’t have to ‘go it alone’ can do wonders for your resilience.

Whilst these things may come more easily to some than others, with a bit of hard work they are possible to develop.  In the current economic climate where organisations are ever changing, going through restructures, mergers and acquisitions, they need employees to be resilient, and to be able to continue on despite the numerous challenges they face in the work environment.  Whilst resilience can be measured when people apply for roles, whether it is in a behavioural interview, a personality/work style preferences assessment, or an assessment centre, it’s good to know that it can also be developed through training if it is not pre-existing.

What are some of the ways you cope when you are faced with adversity at work?  Feel free to leave your comments below.

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