Hustle, bustle. Busy, busy, busy. More hustle. Change. Change faster. Get agile, be smarter, faster, lighter, more efficient, proficient, sufficient. Be a professional. Be an adult. Traffic. Bosses. Meetings. More meetings, more traffic, more, more, more.
The world is full of demands. Demands of our time, energy and performance. And it’s unending. We complete one task on time only to have another thrust upon us with a new, tighter deadline and barely a pause in between.
Along with the work itself, there are the people we work with and for. They have needs, different Styles of behavior, different approaches and more demands – some we understand but many we don’t. And they are often breathing down our necks to keep pace even as they too experience all of life’s pressures. This is the new norm — the expectation — not only do we get caught up in it (willingly or not), we participate and often create stress for others. We may do so unintentionally, but let’s be honest: we’re as much the problem as they are.
With all this noise, stress and pressure, how do we manage our emotions and behaviors?
The answer is by becoming Resilient, the skill that helps us effectively deal with change. This isn’t just business speak for “get over it” or “accept and deal with it.” Resilience is about adapting your perspective and mindset to meet life’s crazy demands with grace and accomplishment. The best part of achieving Resilience is that it benefits YOU—and all of “them” too. In the bigger picture, if everyone embraced a resilient mindset, we’d improve leadership, drive engagement and advance our overall wellbeing.
How? Start with just a long, deep breath.
Ah, better already.
To achieve Resilience, we must first understand why people aren’t naturally Resilient. We all have something called cognitive biases—ways of thinking that keep us safe in a responsive, instinctual way but undermine us in common situations. For example, having a sense of fear when standing too close to a cliff edge or walking in a dark alley at night is a normal and appropriate human response. Our instinctual nature developed to keep us safe. But when that same reaction happens every time our boss walks into our office, our cognitive bias works overtime and undermines our ability to have a thoughtful and appropriate interaction. Our mind conjures up the same fear response, but the reasons are not equal.
By understanding what drives this instinctual-level reaction, we begin to take responsibility for reacting differently. Social Intelligence—which includes Resilience, Versatility, Emotional Intelligence and Behavioral Intelligence—is about learning to adjust and control the way we Think, Act and React to the reality around us. We learn to adjust our thoughts and mindset (how we Think) to be more open to possibility and opportunity. We pause and breathe before we Act so that we React with intention and intelligence. While this sounds perfectly logical, it’s actually hard to do.
Let’s break this down further into some specific and actionable strategies!
- Focus on what you can control. This is an element of taking personal responsibility for your actions (a part of Resilience training) that emphasizes acknowledging responsibility for your behavior—especially your reactions. While we often have little control over what happens TO us, we can always control how we choose to react. In any situation that creates stress, pause a moment to reflect on what parts of the situation are within your control and which are not. Writing it down helps with perspective. The list of “uncontrollables” might still be overwhelming, but there are Resilience approaches to help with this.
- Seek social support. This is where the uncontrollables in your life may find solace. Maybe you can’t control how much work is required by your role, but can you seek help in completing it? Do you have a friend or colleague at work who can help you prioritize? Or maybe, you need help being accountable. Having a team member or buddy who recognizes how hard you work and comes by often to just check in is invaluable. While they may not be able to alleviate the pile on your desk, their friendly connection and acknowledgement of support has huge emotional benefits—it makes us feel heard and recognized when we are overloaded.
- If you don’t have this social support in your life, perhaps try to provide it for someone else, because Giving is also a Resilience strategy that supports wellbeing. When we give to others, we feel empowered, kind, needed, and purposeful about our actions. This can be a simple act of letting someone cut in front of you in traffic on the way to work or supporting a project for a colleague who is buried in details and due dates. Giving to others builds our Resilience through action because we learn to empathize and have compassion for ourselves and the people around us. When we value others, we see ourselves more. Meaning, that even if our kind actions are not acknowledged by others, we feel better for having done something nice; we build up our own wellbeing—a mutual gift worth giving.
- And lastly, breathe. Research shows that different emotions are associated with distinct respiratory patterns. Remember that fear response mentioned above? When you’re afraid, your breathing gets shallow, quick and strained. In contrast, intentional deep breaths calm us instantly. Our emotions affect our breathing patterns, and vice versa—our breathing patterns affect our emotions. When applied in this order (breathe, then feel) we gain more control over our actions and reactions. Breathe intentionally to induce a calmer response, especially in a potentially stressful moment (like the moment when your boss walks into your office unexpectedly). Pause to take a deep breath and experience the subtle difference in how you perceive the situation. Maybe her to-do list will reveal a new opportunity instead of a new challenge. Maybe you can use the feedback to bounce forward in your role?
Resilience is hugely beneficial in our lives, especially our work life. Companies are recognizing these benefits, and Resilience training is becoming increasingly popular. When Resilience strategies are applied at scale across teams or entire organizations, everyone is able to Think, Act and React with more intention and consciousness. Imagine if everyone you worked with paused to take a breath before reacting to a new complex assignment, or encouraged social support to make sure the entire team had a colleague who recognized their efforts and helped make everyone’s workday more enjoyable? Engagement would elevate. Real, genuine engagement: delight, enjoyment and commitment to one’s work.
If leaders were trained to offer support rather than just load the lists, people might like their bosses more AND find them more effective. As they say, people leave managers more often than they leave companies…so bonus, turnover is reduced too!
When stress is lowered, employees are healthier. Greater wellbeing in a company means less stress-related absenteeism and lower costs of wellness. Results prove that implementing Resilience training lowers the costs of employee health, engagement and turnover.
We can’t stop the pace of change, or control traffic, or turn off our instinctual nature. But we can gain greater control of how we Think, Act and React to our reality by implementing Resilience skills.
To learn more about Resilience training and benefits, we invite you to visit: https://tracom.com/resilience-training
Or, join us for an upcoming HCI webinar on September 19 to gain more insights on how to better understand your biases and change your behaviors to become more Resilient.