Resiliency is the ability to adapt to highly stressful situations or crisis. People who are more resilient can adapt more to adversity than those that just give up when things get tough. They can manage stress caused by life changes, difficult obstacles, and high standards put on their plates.
To a certain degree, people are born with an amount of resiliency. You can see it in childhood and you can hear it in the way people respond to life events. Sometimes trauma, age, and sex contribute to the amount of resiliency people have. Resiliency is not a fixed trait and it exists on a continuum so everyone always has the ability to learn to be more resilient. This is not a quick change, but by practicing certain behaviors and shifting your perspective, you can acquire an ability to roll with change and handle stress more easily.
Resilient people tend to be internally focused versus externally focused. They have a belief system that they have choices and can impact their world versus the world or things happening to them. When you are interviewing someone for a position, ask them about the toughest situation personally and professionally they have had to overcome and how they did it. Listen for their belief system about the situation. Did they recognize their personal power? Did they choose to change what was in their control? Was there evidence of a victim modality? For example, “the world is against me,” “my boss didn’t like me,” or “I wasn’t given the right training.” Those who are resilient make things happen and usually don’t complain about what has happened. If you have employees that have blaming or negative stories, or seem stuck in a victim mindset, ask them how this is helping their current situation. Assist them in clarifying what they are and aren’t in control of, then ask them to pick two of those things and put them in to practice the next week. Writing down this action plan can increase their rate of following through with them.
Resilient people tend to be more solution focused and more emotionally intelligent. They are aware of their emotions and where they are coming from. Because they are self aware, they tend to better understand other people’s emotions. When interviewing, ask potential job candidates how they felt about certain issues in the work place. Listen for their awareness of their feelings and the stimulus behind them. If you are working with employees that lack the ability to recognize their own feelings, help them see external and internal clues for basic emotions such as sad, mad, and glad. Build on these emotions with time pointing out subtle differences between the feelings. External clues are those we can see while internal clues are those that the person feels but are not obvious to the person next to them.
Resilient people are action people. They are doers. Look for this in candidates for jobs. Did they see a need in their company and form a group, make a form, or hold a meeting? Listen to what they did and how they implemented things into their personal life as well as in the workplace. While talking with them, ask how they deal with stress and what is they have problems with when solving situations. Look for if people freeze (flight response) or act in a tough situation. If they shut down, avoid, quit, or move on to a different task or topic, they might be less resilient. Acting impulsively out of fear is not always a great aspect, but these people may be able to develop the skills to handle stress more appropriately and retain the urge to act. When dealing with a present employee, look at their strategies of handling conflict. Then, assist them in making a plan with a goal in mind and putting it into practice. Check back in, and hold them accountable for their follow up.
Resilient people are able to see their mistakes and learn from them. They view an obstacle as a challenge and believe that adversity makes them stronger. They tend to not get hung up on the “why” but focus on the “what” that they can learn from a stressful situation. They are not victims. When an interviewee is explaining a stressful situation at work or their personal life, ask them what their part in it was and what they would have wanted to change about their actions and words if they could have a redo. What they would do is less important than if they recognize their part and how well they read the situation, whether or not they would make adjustments. Do they believe it was all about the other person? The choices they would make have more to do with logic and judgement about the situation. If you’re working with someone in your department, let them know your philosophy is 50-50… Focus on their 50% because thats what they can control. If they begin to get off track and start venting and blaming, gently guide them back to what they could do and how their actions influence a situation. All in all, is it helpful or hurtful?
Resilient people understand the need for a core support group. They choose strong, positive people to be around. They are hardy individuals but know the value of leaning on others. When interviewing, ask them about their colleagues and the type of relationships they have with them. Ponder about their childhood friends or college friends… do they still keep in touch? Does someone have a lot of friends or acquaintances or do they have a few close friends? If a person is extroverted, they may tend to have a lot more surface level friends but may still have close relationships. The quality and longevity of these friendships speaks to the ability of these people to maintain connection and work through issues.
Resilient people are less shaken by changes in the market or buy outs. They tend to handle stress better and are are better problem solvers. These employees or potential employees may be more self sufficient and more positive than those that do not acquire a strong level of perseverance and mental toughness. However, the most important thing is that resiliency can be taught.