The Pros and Cons of being Resilient

Apr 24   •  Headspace

“Keep Calm and Carry On” – heard of this, haven’t you? You’d be surprised to learn about the origin of this message. It was thought up the Ministry of Information, England in 1939 when the nation was facing the ravages of World War II. The message was intended to inspire a resilience mindset among the citizenry to keep them going despite the hardships in their way.

So, what is Resilience?
Let’s try to understand what we mean by “resilience”. Resilience is the capability that an individual possesses for adapting to change. It is when a person undergoing a hardship uses this experience to emerge stronger than before from having experienced what he/she has. Basically, it is all about knowing how to turn a misfortune into a lesson. Business gurus and scholars believe that a person’s capacity for resilience is what determines if he/she has higher chances of succeeding or failing.

How does Resilience manifest itself?
When faced with a challenge, an individual with resilience will take pro-active action to mitigate the harm which could result from this challenge. He/she won’t try to shirk their responsibility in dealing with this challenge. Resilience manifests itself in keenness to problem-solve and make decisions. You can spot a resilient person from their composure. They will be goal-oriented and confident in their approach to people/things. They are also optimistic but not foolishly so. They are well aware of ground circumstances and do not sacrifice good reason for optimism’s sake.

Can you build Resilience?
Not all of us are born resilient. But that doesn’t mean, we can’t be resilient in our lifetimes. Resilience can be learned just like any other skill. Mindfulness, goal-setting and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can all help cultivate resilience in a person. CBT is a tactic by which a person learns to mute down their self-criticism and work with a more positive outlook. So, when you are faced with a chaotic work environment, you don’t let it affect you for the worse. Infact, you find ways to actively engage with the chaos and make it work for you.

The Need for Resilience in the Modern Workplace
The Modern Workplace is an ever-changing dynamic flurry of activity. Everyday new technology is being introduced and newer business processes devised. There is economic uncertainty, budget constraints, organisational restructuring, demanding performance targets, fluid business goals and a rise in workplace competition.

It’s a pressure cooker environment, and tensions are running high. An employee’s ability to manage this stress is what sets him/her apart from the rest of the workforce. If they do not have a certain amount of resilience, they will have a difficult time adjusting themselves to functioning in such a high-stress environment. It will hamper their performance to the brink of “workplace burnout” – a situation when they’d rather quit than devote any more time/effort to their work. Resilience is needed here not only to ensure that the employee is fit mentally but also able to contribute to the company’s workflow.

The inability to be resilient can hamper an employee’s mental health and push them towards a breakdown or depression. In turn, these can steer them towards adopting unhealthy lifestyle choices to cope like alcoholism. If an employee can manage to teach resilience into their self, they can maintain a healthy work-life balance where they’re able to keep themselves stress-free and improve their work productivity at the same time.

How Resilience can backfire
If you’re not too careful, your resilience can backfire on you. It’s good to be resilient and be able to cope with difficult situations. However, you should not auto-activate your resilience every time you meet a challenge at work. It’s okay to have to deal with strict deadlines and extra hours from time to time. It’s understandable if your boss is snappy because there’s a project deadline coming up and the work is yet to be completed. However, keep an eye out for when these practices turn into a habit. Having resilience is good, okaying toxic workplace habits is not.

If you notice that your work environment is brought down by the management’s negative attitude and that employees are not given the respect that they should – quit, you will gain nothing by being resilient in such a situation. If you identify that there is a lapse between the job roles you were listed out and the ones you have to perform, by all means, rethink whether you want to hang around in the job. If the workplace is discriminatory and there happen to be way too many misunderstandings between the team leads and the members – something’s wrong.

Know when to walk out. Don’t subject yourself to a toxic work environment thinking you’ll be able to wing it with your resilience. Chances are, the situation won’t improve anytime soon, and you will only be harming your mental health.

Help, if you can
If you happen to be an employee who can bring in changes into the workplace, do your bit. Try to develop more flexible work arrangements. Recognise the importance of sound mental health among your peers. Even one positive change can make a big difference.

In conclusion, there are several ways in which a person can build their resilience. Mindfulness, eating right and exercising are some of the ways. Having a solid social support system outside work is also beneficial in polishing your resilience.

Resilience is a commendable skill to have. It helps you manage and cope in the face of adversity. It enables you to make the best of situations. However, one should not let their resilience encourage destructive behaviours. The ability to withstand is all well and good. But one mustn’t facilitate wrong. Try to build resilience to keep up with your deadlines and improve your workplace productivity.

At the same time, don’t turn a blind eye to workplace abuse. Doing so says nothing about your capacity for resilience. Instead, it indicates poor judgement on your part.

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