building your resilience at work

If you want better results and more enjoyment at work then consider developing your resilience. It will result in you having a greater sense of control and being less likely to feel thwarted or overwhelmed by demand, change or other events.

People talk a lot about the importance of developing resilience at work these days, but I think this is a false distinction. Resilience is built on a set of personal characteristics which we take with us wherever we go, both at work and elsewhere in our lives.

Building your resilience will bring all-round benefit. It is about developing life skills which relate to you, wherever you are and whatever you are doing.

That said, the since the question I’m most often asked is about how to be more resilient at work, here are the things you need to do to help with that.


How we handle ourselves and our outlook on life affects how we respond to challenge, demand and pressure (the current obsessions about resilience at work). Becoming more resilient requires a shift in thinking and behaviour. It’s a personal quest, if you like, to become a emotionally and psycholigically fitter in order to better cope with demand. So a resilient outlook means taking an interest in ourselves and our potential.

At work, conformity and groupthink can produce unquestioned habits and responses when people are under pressure. This often results in negative beliefs and behaviour which undermine resilience.

Therefore, the first step in boosting your personal resilience is to distance yourself from the sort of negative attitudes which people can ao easily fall into at work. It may be a natural defence to moan about circumstances, but it is pernicious and it drains morale.

The attitudes and behaviour below can help you survive and flourish even if you are surrounded by doom and gloom. Having the presence of mind to be your own person, by refusing to conform to negativity, also feeds your self-confidence. This in turn aids resilience.

The emphasis must be on developing one’s own resilience. But when colleagues in a team or group unite and agree to be guided by these seven steps, as well as the collective resilience of the group improving, it will also help the individuals within it.


These steps are part attitude and part behaviour. Individually they can be viewed as a series of lessons, or habits to be mastered. Together, they provide ways of developing resilience at work and feeling more directed and purposeful in what you do:

Treat life as a learning process. Develop the habit of using challenges as opportunities to acquire or master skills and build achievement.

Seen this way, difficulties are seen as opportunities for learning. A problem is only a problem if you can’t see your way past it. Looking for opportunities will help improve your problem-solving skills and reduce the risk of feeling thwarted by a situation you can’t control. This also helps you to nurture a positive view of yourself and boosts self-confidence.

Stay grounded and keep a realistic perspective. Avoid making a drama out of a crisis and place challenging or painful events in the broader context of lifelong personal growth. Stress and change are an unavoidable part of life. How we interpret and respond to events has a big impact on how stressful we find them. You can’t control events, but you can control how you react to them and how you let them affect you.

Celebrate your successes. Take time at the end of each day to review and acknowledge what went well. Taking credit for the good things that happen trains the mind to look for success, rather than dwelling on negativity and ‘failure’. Learning to recognise and acknowledge your daily successes can counter the tendency to write off positive events as chance. This boosts self-acknowledgement and self-belief.

Develop a sense of purpose and realistic life goals that are actionable. Do something each day to move towards them. Small is beautiful; one small step amid the chaos of a busy day will help. This helps to counter helplessness by developing a sense of personal agency, which relates to the sense of power you have in a situation.

Take positive action. Doing something in the face of adversity brings a sense of control, even if it doesn’t remove the difficulty. Stand back from the problem. If necessary schedule some time out to reflect. If the problem is too big to tackle, find some small piece of it that that you can do something about. Then get on with it.

Practice optimism. Nothing is either wholly good or bad. If we allow our thinking to dictate how we view something it will take over. Make your thinking work for your benefit, rather than letting it stymie you with doubt or by seeing only the bad side. Even pessimists can use the tools of optimism when facing a challenge.

Cherish social support and interaction. Good relationships with family and friends and others are vital. This includes posivie relationships with colleagues. You don’t have to be best friends, nor even like everyone you work with, but you can be business-like and respectful. Patch up conflicts or avoid the troublemakers as you steer your course to greater resilience.

It’s a personal journey

Ideas about ways to build resiliance at work are often badied about as though, with the right training or information, you can quickly find the stamina and grit to tackle worplace demands, however unreasonable.

The truth is that even when you build your resilience at work over time, it doen’t mean that you can simply cope with more pressure uncritically. Resilience is about knowing and managing yourself. This involves also knowing your limits, managing your boundaries and managing stress. If you neglect these aspects you won’t be building your resilience.

However, combined with the personal commitment to understand what makes you tick. and to build on your strengths, these skills and strategies will make you better at coping with work pressure and the challenges related to your job and elsewhere. You’ll enhance your productivity and your creativity, and even in the face of extreme challenge you’ll be able to bounce back to tackle what you can with a sense of purpose.

Boosting your resilience won’t make the problems disappear, but it will mean that you can be more resourceful in dealing with them.

Like any skills, the more you practice, the better you get. Don’t attempt to develop them all at once, take your time and focus on the points above one at a time. Consider making a self-development programme by introducing one each week, for example.

When you build your resilience at work. you’l find it is rewarding, and even small steps can quickly result in bigger, positive change.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.


Leave A Comment