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  • Writer's pictureLaura De Veau

Develop The Competency of Workplace Resiliency

A few weeks ago, I was getting ready to enter a fitness class, when I ran into a casual acquaintance. We did our usual verbal dance that you have when playing catch up with someone who you had basically a transactional relationship. She had once owned and operated a cafe in town and I would go there after exercising with a close friend at a fitness studio nearby. As the child and grandchild of shop owners myself, I always want to support local businesses. I was sad when her store closed, but I was happy she seemed to be doing well.

She asked me what I had been doing and I reminded her of the closure of my previous employer. She had remembered the news of the closure, but had forgotten that I had worked there. “Oh my god, how are you doing?” I answered as I had become accustomed, “When one loses their job, their identity and their home all in one moment, it definitely can be a shock to the system, but I have made my own path and I am committed to making my way.”

A stranger, who overheard the conversation walked up to me and said, “I am sorry to be eavesdropping, but I had to tell you that I am so impressed by you. You are resilient. You are an inspiration. You should be so proud.”

I went into the fitness class and focused on the moves and the body position, and tried to clear my head, but the stranger’s words kept coming back to me, distracting me, making me pull my attention away from why I was there. Rather than take this stranger for her word, I preferred to think that perhaps she felt sorry for me, and that she was simply trying to give me a pat on the head and send me on my way. This moved my mind to consider why in the world did I not just take this well-meaning woman for her word? Then, after stumbling in class, I would focus back on the moves, and put the matter out of my mind.

After class, I decided to go home and research resiliency and determine if I was actually being resilient … or simply pig headed. After spending some time reflecting, Googling and talking to trusted individuals, I have come to the determination that yes, I am pig headed - but also resilient. One of the resources that I stumbled on from the American Psychological Association [APA] (Road to Resilience) listed 10 ways to build resilience. Each category could as easily be applied to work as it was to personal life. I thought to myself, “As we consider our professional life, is there an opportunity to consider workplace resiliency as a full-fledged area where we need to build competency?” Indeed, the answer is yes.

As with challenges and setbacks to our personal life, resiliency in the workplace is of paramount importance in order to maintain a level of professional focus, engagement and direction. By applying the 10 ways to build resilience as outlined by the APA Road to Resilience, one could create a workplace resiliency tool kit. I would recommend going area by area, from making connections, avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems, accept change and be decisive - among others. In each of these areas, think about how it applies to your workplace and how you have control over each category.

Workplace challenges are commonplace. You are overlooked for a promotion, are on the receiving end of a staffing change or reorg, downsizing and lack of challenge and engagement are all realities that are faced with regularity. When these setbacks occur, you can respond in several ways: retreat, freeze or advance. By retreating, you will compound the issue, making it more difficult to overcome. By freezing, you lose control of the matter, which is circulating around you and eventually moves away from you. But, by advancing, you keep up with the challenge, analyze it and apply the tools that you have to gain a level of control once again.

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