Life is not a path full of roses. By now, we all know that we are faced with endless obstacles. Some are small and easily overcome, but others require more effort or become real adversities. One of the most interesting skills we can develop to navigate complex environments is resilience, understood as the ability to be flexible, resist and overcome both personal and professional difficulties.
The term resilience originally expressed the physical quality of objects to return to their initial state. An example is the elastic bands, which stretch and then return to the original place. However, in the social sciences, after a setback you never go back to the same point, but to another that may be better, but also worse. Psychiatrist Luis Rojas Marcos says that, thanks to resilience, many people who overcome serious adversities not only return to the previous level of normality, but also experience positive changes.
Recent research applied to the professional world has shown that resilience is teamwork. Not only does it depend on personal qualities, but it is influenced by the types of relationships we maintain with our environment. That is the conclusion of a work done by Rob Cross, Karen Dillon and Danna Greenberg and that was published in Harvard Business Review in January, after analyzing how some managers managed their teams of people during the pandemic. The sample includes 150 leaders, five men and five women from ten successful organizations.
The conclusion that resilience is a skill that is trained as a team is relatively modern. Usually the focus had been on the individual characteristics that a person should possess. However, based on in-depth interviews conducted by the aforementioned authors, some professional connections have been found to be key to overcoming difficulties. The researchers classified them in eight and it could be said that they are the sources to reinforce our ability to face problems in a positive way. Let’s see which ones they propose:
Empathy. Provide empathetic support so that the person can release negative emotions from listening to and understanding the other.
Humor. It helps us laugh at ourselves and the situation, no matter how tough it may seem. These types of connections reduce tension and help decision-making in times of stress.
Purpose: In difficult moments it helps us to remember the meaning of our work to recharge energy and move on.
Perspective: It helps us to look at a problem in a broader way when we are faced with setbacks.
Vision. In difficult circumstances it shows us a way forward, like a strategy or a desired goal.
Give us a push. In moments of paralysis in the face of the situation, they are connections that help us to go back, to think and to continue forward.
Politics. It helps us find a sense of people or politics in a given situation, when it is not clear to us at first glance.
Workload. In times of stress due to overwork, it helps us in the management of shifts or the distribution of responsibilities to reduce your load.
According to the authors of the research, the eight types do not have the same impact for everyone. There are those who find empathy more helpful or who prefer to be given a greater perspective when things go wrong. We could make a map of our personal connections, assess the degree of satisfaction we have and identify what are the three connections that we need to strengthen to gain resilience. Once this reflection is done, we should consider a plan to reinforce them. It is interesting to point out that perhaps at work we will not find the one that is important to us, such as a sense of humor or perspective, for example. If so, it would be important to expand the map of our relationships and build connections that help us feel better and gain resilience.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.