How to Become More Resilient


We often hear the term ‘resilience’ being bantered about and that we should be more ‘resilient’ in the workplace however, what does being resilient mean? Being resilient means having the ability to bounce back in the face of adversity or in other words, being able to bounce back when the going gets tough.

Every day we are presented with challenging situations so knowing how to bounce back or ‘be resilient’ will help keep us on track emotionally, physically and mentally.  So how can being more resilient help us?  Here are a few ways being resilient will benefit you. You:

  • Will be able to cope effectively and rationally in stressful situations
  • Will have skills / techniques to call on when presented with challenging situations, thereby giving you control of your actions and subsequent decisions in a calm manner
  • Will require less sick leave time – stress being one of the highest causes of sick leave

So, don’t all of the above sound great?  Well then let me tell you about 1 easy way to become more resilient:

Identifying your explanatory styles and how to challenge them

We all have a way of explaining things to ourselves and to others however, have you ever stopped to think how you explain things might actually impact you in a negative way?   Explanatory styles is a psychological characteristic that we use to explain to ourselves why we experience an event in a positive or negative way.

Let’s put this into context – say you take a pervasive approach to your explanatory style, then it will be a blanket way of explaining the situation and not entirely accurate.  A few years ago, my eldest son was looking for a part-time job while he was in school. He went out one day and dropped a few C.V.’s off to prospective employers and got negative results – he came home to say that no-one was hiring part-time staff. In actuality, after encouraging him to get back out and knock on a few more doors, he got his first, part-time job – so in fact the reality of the situation was ….. not every place was hiring but there were one or two places that were!  The learning in this is you can’t explain situations in a blanket, pervasive way as it’s inaccurate.

Another explanatory style is the personal approach i.e. you may believe a situation turns out negatively because someone doesn’t like you.  For example, if you didn’t get the job you were after you may say to yourself ‘it’s because the interviewer doesn’t like me that I didn’t get the job’.  If you remove the negative, personal explanatory style from this and look at the factual reasons why you didn’t get the job, it may well be because you are not experienced enough or/and you didn’t demonstrate you had the relevant competencies to do the job during the interview. In other words, you need to de-personalise your negative explanatory style and look at the situation objectively.

Lastly, there is the permanent explanatory style in that everything is permanent, in a negative sense.  Let’s say you’ve had difficultly learning a new skill, say Presentation Skills and because you’ve had difficultly learning the skills required to present effectively, you explain the situation in a permanent negative light and therefore may say: ‘I’ll never be able to present’ as in it’s a permanent state.  In fact, if you looked for ways to achieve your goal of being able to present e.g. attend a training course, get feedback on a presentation, record yourself on your Smartphone or iPhone and/or give yourself feedback you would realise that you can present and therefore, the situation wasn’t in fact permanent, only temporary.

By looking for ways to overcome the obstacle(s) you’ve created for yourself with your permanent negative explanatory style, you can re-adjust your thinking to ensure you achieve your goals.

Go ahead and challenge your explanatory styles and see the positive benefits.  As always, I’d welcome your feedback and view-points.

Until next month.