Resilience is defined by many as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity. But certain kinds interpersonal dynamics can drain our ability to bounce back. When British researchers Sarah Bond and Gillian Shapiro asked 835 employees from public, private, and nonprofit firms what was happening in their lives that required them to draw down the reserves that power resiliency, they didn’t cite tragedies in the news, or the accelerating pace of change, or the challenges of a difficult economy. They pointed to their co-workers.
A whopping 75% of respondents said that the biggest drain on their resilience reserves was “managing difficult people or office politics at work.” Moreover, when asked where their reserves of resilience came from, fully 90% said “from myself,” a little over 50% said “from my relationships,” and barely 10% said “from my organization.”
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, senior editor Andrea Ovans laments, “That’s a pity, because at the end of the day, the wellsprings of resilience are equally applicable to organizations confronting historic challenges and to individuals confronting the thousand small cuts we may be inflicting on one another every day.” Citing Diane Coutu, author of How Resilience Works, Ovans explains that resilient people possess three characteristics:
a staunch acceptance of reality;
a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful;
an uncanny ability to improvise.
Says Coutu, ”You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three. These three characteristics hold true for resilient organizations as well.…Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not.”
Do you consider yourself resilient? What about your organization? Which of the three qualities do you (or it) display most? To join the conversation, click "comments" above. We would love your feedback.