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How to Build Resilience at Work, Even When Times Are Tough

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning" -Benjamin Franklin

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We’ve all wondered about what makes people successful at work.

We often attribute their success to their intelligence and devotion. So we think to ourselves, perhaps it’s because they’re willing to go above and beyond the responsibilities they’re assigned. Or maybe it’s because they work longer hours and have more stamina to take in those pressures and demands.  

We believe that overcommitting and overextending oneself is the key to success. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! Modern workplaces are dominated by deadlines, staff cutbacks, competition, and organizational change. 

To be successful in such a ruthless environment requires an unshakable ability to cope with and even thrive in stressful situations.

This cannot happen if you lack resilience. The exciting thing about it is that resilience is a skill. And like all skills, it can be learned and assimilated. 

Resilience is the ability to bounce back when facing challenges and obstacles. It’s the ability to manage and adapt no matter how much pressure you’re under. When you’re resilient, you don’t panic and withdraw into yourself in the face of adversity. 

 On the contrary, your resilience allows you to face those drawbacks head-on and thrive. While some people are born more resilient than others, this doesn’t mean you’re doomed to slowly drown in turbulent waters for the rest of your life.  

What is Resilience in the Workplace?

Resilient employees are able to build strong connections with others.

These connections are often characterized by effective communication, active listening, and a deep sense of empathy. So a resilient worker will go to great lengths to help a colleague succeed. They’re a team player, always aiming for a win-win situation that benefits everyone involved, not just themselves. 

But most importantly, a resilient employee has an unparalleled fighting spirit, a passion that sets them apart. They have the grit and perseverance to pursue their long-term goals and will do whatever it takes to overcome the challenges they encounter along the way. 

The way they perceive their jobs and what they do also sets them apart from their colleagues. When you believe that what you do is meaningful and has a positive impact on the world, you’re better equipped to bounce back when work is proving to be stressful.   

Examples of resilience in the workplace

Being resilient means you allow your rational side to override your emotional and subjective gut reactions.

Resilience at work can mean:

  • Accepting that your effort or input simply failed to be recognized
  • Allowing others room to speak and voice their opinions (despite having better things to say) and curbing your feelings of frustration/ resentment
  • Withholding your anger when fellow employees make poor decisions that negatively impact your project
  • Handling criticism in a mature way without getting defensive or feeling personally offended

3 Tips to Build Resilience at Work

No.1 Mindset

Being resilient doesn’t mean you don’t experience the overwhelming feelings that come with stress.

Stress is an inevitable part of life, whether you’re at home or in the workplace -although the latter does present a multitude of pressures. 

However, what distinguishes resilient people when they’re under stress is that they’re able to closely monitor their feelings and thoughts in those situations. So they’re able to work their way through adversity by separating their own beliefs (of how scary challenges can be) from the emotional consequences these beliefs can have. 

Instead of thinking of difficult times as permanent and insurmountable, they see them as local, temporary, and changeable. It’s all about changing your mindset and disarming your self-limiting beliefs. 

No.2 Communication

Clear, concise, and consistent communication is key when it comes to building resilience in the workplace.

Difficult times are likely to take a toll on team morale.

However, you can easily remedy that with creativity, positivity, and innovative thinking. 

Your attitude translates into the work environment, so if you don’t communicate effectively, your team will stop looking for solutions to hanging problems and begin to accept failure as inevitable.

The future of any business rests on the resilience and adaptability of its people. 

So use a proactive approach to encourage open and honest communication. It’s essential that everyone feels at ease to voice their issues, views, and opinions. As a leader, you may have to step in and diffuse tension, but open communication should be encouraged. Otherwise, there’s no way for you and your team to learn about your strengths and weaknesses. 

Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.” ― Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

No.3 Empathy

If you want to become a better leader or a more resilient employee, you should definitely work on improving your empathy.

It’s a very simple idea yet it goes a long way. When you’re more empathetic, you show others that you care about their concerns, that you share their anger, sadness, or joy, and that you want to help them overcome their difficulties. 

Start by listening to your team members, truly listening, with an open heart and mind. Step outside of yourself for a second and try to understand their perspective. You don’t need to agree with everything they say but it is important that you see what they’re trying to communicate.

Empathy is the backbone of strong relationships, so use your kindness to cultivate and nurture meaningful and long-lasting bonds with your coworkers.

In Conclusion

Being resilient means being able to bounce back when things don’t go as planned.

In the face of adversity, you don’t let your emotional reactions take the lead.

You curb your bias and allow your rational self to override those feelings. Moreover, building resilience at work is a process. It takes time, effort, and commitment. But most importantly, it requires a positive mindset, open and honest communication, and a deep sense of empathy. So focus on these three qualities and you will be able to navigate challenges and thrive even when times are tough.

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