When Crisis Comes

3 ways resilience is hijacked in the workplace

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Tired woman are sleeping and holding cup. Laptop is situated on the table.
Tired woman are sleeping and holding cup. Laptop is situated on the table.

During this pandemic crisis, when everyone was busy trying to survive, something shadowy may have slipped in.

Employees shifted quickly–automatically–to working from home. Mostly without missing a beat, they set up home work-spaces, communications, and technology. Concurrently, many experienced additional stresses as their loved ones struggled with change and potential illness.

At a time when personal resilience needed to be restored and preserved, it was tapped to continue the mission of their work. When they experienced weariness or unclear thinking, they wondered what was wrong with them. When deadlines loomed, they quietly worked into the nights and weekends. Few had conversations about revising expectations under the circumstances. Workers felt they “should” be able to handle this. They suffered in silence to avoid shame and judgement. Employers saw results and didn’t hit the pause button to redefine the mission, regroup around needs, and reassign resources.

This is the beauty of human capacity. When crisis comes, people step up. Even at their detriment.

Their precious and finite resilience can be knowingly or unknowingly exploited in three ways: Shaming, Shoulding and Misappropriation. These three forms of resilience abuse are related and interconnected.

Here’s the thing…Any of us could be guilty of any of these, especially during time of crisis. When our resilience starts to wane and our fears kick in, we can unconsciously become part of someone else’s problem.

Now is the time to take a moment, take a breath, and take a humble look inside for any of these signs:

Resilience Shaming

Often an offshoot of various forms of privilege, Resilience Shaming assumes everyone should be able to cope as well as you do.

Examples of Resilience Shaming:

  • Any form of comparison which implies an individual’s resilience is inadequate.
  • Negatively judging an individual for how they deal with crisis.
  • Implying fault.


  • Tap into your compassion. It is impossible to know the circumstances of another’s suffering.
  • Create safe space for a person to express their needs. Listen to understand.
  • If they request specific assistance, provide it if you can.

Resilience Shoulding

Thinking you know what others need to do to build their resilience is about you, your comfort level, and how they fit into your needs; it’s not about them. You can’t possibly know the path of their soul’s growth.

Examples of Resilience Shoulding:

  • Trying to “fix” another person.
  • Implementing broad-brush resilience programs in the workplace.
  • Prescribing one-size-fits-all resilience formula.


  • Focus on your own resilience, since “Shoulding” may be a projection of your own needs onto others.
  • Work to understand the resilience needs of people you care about, in their terms.

Resilience Misappropriation

Resilience belongs solely to the individual. An employer, spouse or family member has no right to draw upon any individual’s resilience. Resilience cannot be required or expected of an individual to justify mistreatment, abuse or neglect.

Examples of Resilience Appropriation:

  • Not providing an employee with adequate resources to create the desired outcome, while expecting the employee to draw upon their resilience to get the job done.
  • Not respecting an individual’s stated needs, yet expecting them to meet yours.


  • Provide for their needs; support their resilience.
  • Adjust expectations about outcomes.
  • Increase your own capacity to reduce your requirements of others.

Bouncing Forward

We’re in this for the long-haul. The sustainable way forward focuses on refilling, and then maintaining, first our own personal energy, and then supporting those around us to do the same.

Excerpted from “The Opposite of Burnout: Crisis Edition 2020” to help you find your way when your internal flame flickers.

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