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  3. Resilience skills: What are they and do they matter for your career?
Resilience skills: What are they and do they matter for your career?

Resilience skills: What are they and do they matter for your career?

  • What is a resilience skill?
  • What are good examples of resilience at work?
  • 1. Managing stress and emotional responses
  • 2. Maintaining positivity in the workplace
  • 3. Making strong decisions and solving problems
  • 6 Ways to build your resilience to better your career
  • Key takeaways

We may not be able to control the stress and problems that we face at work, but we can choose how we respond to them. Resilience skills are vital for overcoming challenges in our careers and achieving success, and we’ll show you how.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), resilience is “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” The APA also states that resilience skills can be learned and developed, so no matter what challenges you face personally and professionally, you can persevere.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • What is a resilience skill?

  • What are the five pillars of resilience?

  • What is a good example of resilience at work (we’ll give you three!)

  • What are six ways to build resilience?

What is a resilience skill?

When you're confronted with difficulty, how do you react? If you're resilient, you can rebound from adversity, which is also an important skill to have at work. There are actually five pillars of resiliency and developing these can help support success in your career.

The five are:

  1. Supporting self-care and general well-being. To develop resilience, you need to support your physical and emotional health. This includes not neglecting your health, pursuing hobbies, getting enough sleep, eating well, and reaching out for help when it's needed.

  2. Having a positive outlook. If you're a Gloomy Gus, work on finding the positive in a situation and a solution rather than dwelling in negativity.

  3. Handling decision-making and solving problems. A resilient person focuses on the idea of "relax, adapt, and overcome." They work towards solving a problem rather than being stopped by it.

  4. Employing strong emotional regulation. Resilient people have developed the skills necessary to manage their emotions. You don’t let your emotions rule you during a tough situation.

  5. Maintaining a strong social support network. Developing a support network is crucial for a sense of resiliency as it can provide assistance, advice, and comfort while maintaining healthy relationships.

For some people, these resilience skills are intrinsic, but if they don’t come easily to you, they can be nurtured and strengthened. Fostering these skills will help you overcome challenges and emerge from them better and stronger.

What are good examples of resilience at work?

If you have resiliency in the workplace, it means you effectively deal with obstacles, failures, and stress. It means better efficiency, job performance, and a successful career trajectory. Resiliency also means you can learn from your mistakes and avoid them in the future. 

In general, a resilient employee feels their work is meaningful and supports the success of others. They have a robust professional network and effectively communicate with their colleagues.

Managing stress, establishing work/life boundaries, and taking care of their health to avoid burnout is standard. Authentic, they can move on after overcoming a difficult challenge.

Here’s what using resilience skills might look like in the workplace:

1. Managing stress and emotional responses

We’ve all worked with that one person who explodes at the slightest inconvenience. Managing emotional responses can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed, angry, or even helpless. Practice taking a moment in times of extreme stress to do breathing exercises, short meditations, or even just stepping away for a moment to help you regulate your emotional responses.  

For example, Emily is stressed out about negative feedback from a client. She starts to feel overwhelmed and finds herself snapping at coworkers for no reason. She takes a few minutes to go for a walk, does a few breathing exercises, and tries to look at the situation rationally. She figures out what she can do differently next time and finds new efficiencies in her performance rather than being frustrated with client demands or taking criticism personally.

2. Maintaining positivity in the workplace

By approaching your work with a positive attitude, you’ll be better able to manage challenges and maintain a feeling of competence and control. Applying positive energy to your work builds resilience, and helps combat burnout.

Take Alan for instance. He recently graduated from college with a degree in accounting but was having trouble finding a job in his hometown and didn’t want to move. He also wasn’t sure what area he wanted to specialize in, couldn’t picture himself achieving success, and felt he chose the wrong field. However, he realized that he needed to turn his attitude around, so he volunteered at a local non-profit. During his time there, he met some people in the business world who mentored him. He also took some business classes to develop some new skills. After a short time, one of the other volunteers offered him an interview for a great accounting position in a division of his company, and Alan was soon promoted to department head.

Statistical Insight

According to a Mayo Clinic survey of over 1,900 participants, reported quality of life was higher for those with higher reported resilience. Among those surveyed, 41.7 percent self-reported higher resilience, 34.3 percent had medium resilience, and 24 percent had lower resilience. Those with a reported lower resilience had four times the depression and nearly three times more anxiety than the higher resilience group. The findings show that higher resilience in the workplace “is associated with better mental health, reduced stress, and greater well-being.”

3. Making strong decisions and solving problems

When a person has resiliency, they don't become overwhelmed by every problem that comes their way. They gather the necessary information, ask colleagues for advice, consider various points of view, and think through their decisions. And once they’ve come to a solution, they delegate, communicate, and make necessary adjustments to their plan. They also understand the role stress plays in their problem-solving and decision-making process, and work toward remaining calm and clear-headed.

Here’s one example: Katie came in to work Monday morning to find multiple angry messages from their company’s biggest client and that several members of her team had called out sick. She felt frustrated and overwhelmed. Taking a few deep breaths, she centered herself and performed some scenario thinking to determine the client’s issue. Before jumping into a rushed decision, Katie solicited advice from a few colleagues, researched her vendor database, and then delegated tasks to get everything done quickly and efficiently. She also came up with a Plan B in case the client still wasn’t satisfied. By taking a rational, step-by-step approach, she (and her team) solved the problem and put out the proverbial fire. The next day, Katie's supervisor sent her an email praising her for her work and told her that the client appreciated it.

6 Ways to build your resilience to better your career

Like a muscle, resiliency must be exercised to get stronger. And you don't have to take a long, detailed course or spend hours every morning in deep meditation. Resiliency can be developed in many small ways, every day. 

Six ways you can build your resilience skills are:

  1. Understanding that adversity is a part of life. You can't fix everything, and you have to accept that and spend your energy on things you can change and overcome. As the Rolling Stones sang, "You can't always get what you want, but you just might find you get what you need."

  2. Taking action. Make decisions instead of avoiding a problem or ignoring it.

  3. Making a set of reasonable goals and sticking to them. Even reaching smaller goals can move you along your career path. Don’t focus on things that are out of reach right now—think, “What is something I can do this morning/today/this week that will help me reach my bigger goals?”

  4. Developing a positive self-image. It’s easy to succumb to negative self-talk. If you can have some confidence and believe in your abilities, you’ll develop the resilience you need to solve problems and make good decisions.

  5. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally. Don't let stress get the better of you. In your personal life, spend time with people who support you and do activities that bring you joy. Exercise and eat and rest well. 

  6. Staying calm. Maintain a sense of perspective even in difficult circumstances and remember the big picture. 

Having resiliency doesn’t mean that you’ll never experience extreme stress, nor does it mean you’re happy and positive all the time. In fact, developing your resilience skills means experiencing challenges, problems, and stress and learning from them as you overcome them. And you absolutely can develop these skills no matter where you are on your career path. It might take a little time and self-reflection, but cultivating resilience will benefit you and your career.

If you’re looking for a way to succeed in your new career, consider Career.io’s First 90-Days Plan which will provide you with practical tools and expert-crafted strategies to accelerate your career growth and achieve your goals.

Key takeaways

  1. Resiliency is defined as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” 

  2. Developing the five pillars of resilience—self-care, a positive outlook, decision making and solving problems, strong emotional regulation,. and maintaining a strong support network—will help you in your career.

  3. Nurturing resilience skills means dealing with challenges and issues as you conquer them. 

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