September 27, 2021 Resilience and evolving with it
No different from the challenges in our personal lives, setbacks and difficult scenarios at work can sometimes feel like a kick in the teeth! We all have stories and stressors that range in intensity – for instance, missing out on that job, conflict with a colleague, disappointing feedback from the boss, losing a client, mistakes that resulted in further setbacks and so on. Yes, we’ve all experienced conflict in the workplace, and dealing with difficult conversations is not appealing. So, the question is – how to get back on your feet quickly?
Resilience involves being introspective, resourceful, and forward-thinking vs allowing the situation to hold you down. In a nutshell, resilience is the ability to bounce back from a difficult scenario. It entails figuring out what’s going on, how you’re feeling, what the stressors are and to focus on ‘what’s next’ and how to get there. Resilience is an important everyday skill and no surprise – it’s recognized as a critical leadership capability. Resilience can be learned and improved…so, that’s a good thing!
I’d suggest starting off by evaluating the scenario from a holistic perspective – knowing the scenario, knowing oneself and knowing the resources. Assessing it from different angles is valuable and important. However, it can sometimes be tough to do. Let’s face it, when we’re in the midst of dealing with something stressful or painful, we may not pause to reflect before taking any action. But that’s exactly what needs to happen, because jumping in and being reactionary may worsen the situation.
Each step requires your focus and desire to move forward.
Knowing the scenario
Evaluate what happened and why. For example, if you missed out on a promotion, get feedback on why and ask for suggestions on getting yourself ready for the next opportunity. Remember that this requires more listening than talking. You may not agree with what’s being shared but use it as an opportunity to view things through another lens. (And by the way, there may be some truth to what’s being shared). This may not be easy to do, especially if you’re upset with the outcome. However, getting this information creates a bridge to the next two steps.
Why is this upsetting you? How do you best deal with setbacks or stressful situations? How do you plan and move forward? What’s worked well for your mental, emotional, and physical health. This is self-awareness. You’ll get better at this and understand the answers to these questions the more you look introspectively. This step allows you to reflect and then problem solve, therefore using your inner strengths, such as pragmatism, humility, confidence, optimism, etc. There’s an emphasis here on establishing a ‘healthier’ you, as you focus on your mind, body, and emotions.
Knowing the resources
Who are your trusted allies? Who do you turn to for guidance? Do you need someone to simply listen? Or are you looking for advice from a subject matter expert? Depending on the scenario and how much it has affected you, you may need a few people to lean on. It’s vital to rely on your allies during difficult times. However, if you feel uneasy about involving your family or friends, there are professional counsellors, coaches and advisors who can assist. The message here is – don’t feel that it’s a battle that you must face on your own. Talking about the issue can help embolden your inner strengths.
Why does this matter?
Simply put, resilience IS important to our overall well-being.
It’s the mental warehouse that we rely on to support us. It’s our arsenal of tools that we need to prop us up so that we don’t fall apart when faced with trials and tribulations. Our emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing collectively help us with our inner drive and strength. Working on our resilience requires a focus on our overall wellness. And conversely, a lack of resilience can adversely impact our overall wellbeing and social interactions.
So, now onto our overall wellbeing – meaning mental, physical, and emotional health. The message here is to Be Kind To Yourself. If you’re mentally and physically worn out, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to get back on your feet quickly and be strong to forge ahead. Remember that if you stay in a stressful or depressed state, it will not allow you to achieve calm and be thoughtful in order to successfully problem solve. It will not give you the positive energy that you need to bounce back. A plan to get to a positive space should include this trio – good sleep, exercise, and a well-balanced diet.
The final phase involves learning from what happened and moving forward.
Take a look in the rear-view mirror and ask yourself what you’ve learned from the scenario. There’s no guarantee something similar won’t happen again. However, what you can control is how you react and the actions you take to deal with it. Those lessons learned will help you become more resilient and more astute. Learning from the past is critical but dwelling on the past can be toxic. So, shift gears and move forward. Many people rely on exercise and meditation to clear their mind in order to embrace what’s next, and to look into the future with a more positive mindset. Resilient people focus on the positive and use it as a platform to achieve their goals. Remember, the ability to be resilient can be improved as we further develop and mature.
None of this happens easily. We all can agree on that! So don’t hesitate to ask others for guidance and supplement it with your own research. Remember to start off by evaluating the scenario and looking at your inner strengths – like a radar used to gain knowledge. Knowledge is power! And this knowledge and understanding will strengthen your ability to adapt and recover.
Forrest Gump aptly said:
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Along with the good times, life will bring uncertainty, risks, drama, challenges, and opportunities. Some things may be predictable and many times we will face the unpredictable. And that’s no different in the world of work. Being resilient means tapping into our strengths and our trusted network to overcome difficulties and work through adversity. At the end of the day, our connection to people and issues that matter to us should result in our healthier well-being and improved lifestyle.
We’re Vas and Sobha Nair, two sisters that have lived and breathed all aspects of human resources for over 50 years between us. Giraffe was born from our global experience coaching leaders and business owners navigate the same tricky workplace issues and discussions that you face. We know the best practices and proven processes that help turn workplace conflict on its head – and we want to share all of this and more with you in Giraffe.