Today we’re covering specific strategies that can help you maintain your resilience in the face of challenges commonly experienced in the workplace. Watch the video or read the blog post that follows to learn more.
A recent article in Harvard Business Review by Andrea Ovans cited a study on resilience that I found really interesting. Sarah Bond and Gillian Shapiro surveyed 835 employees in Britain from a range of companies about what they felt had the biggest impact on their resilience. The responses were surprising. Respondents didn’t cite any of the big crises that make the headlines, as I would have expected. Instead, 75% of the people surveyed said that “managing difficult people or office politics at work” was the biggest drain on their resilience. The second highest response was “When the volume or pace of work stretches me to my limits” and the third was “When I feel I am being criticized personally.”
In other words, all 3 of the top responses had something to do with getting along at work.
I’ve spent the past 25 years working in organizations coaching people who were dealing with these kinds of situations. What I’ve found is that there are 3 core ingredients that help people respond to them and maintain their personal resilience.
- Building up your internal capacity, so that when these situations occur you have the energy strategies to cope with them.
- Being able to see the patterns so you don’t take them personally.
- Being able to communicate in a way that reduces conflict, while still meeting your goals.
Let’s look at each of these ingredients in more detail:
Building Your Internal Capacity
I call this your “internal executive presence.” Your resilience on the inside has a major impact on how you show up with others. When your internal thought patterns are empowering and productive, you come across as confident and in control. In my coaching work, I help clients become mindful of these thought patterns. I also teach them proven techniques for shifting out of disempowering thoughts. When they employ these strategies, they show up in ways that garner respect.
In addition, we also look at daily habits and routines. These include habits shown by research to build mental and emotional resilience, such as daily journaling or meditation. We also look at creating healthy habits around food, water intake, sleep, and exercise, as tending to their physical health also has a major impact on energy and resilience.
Seeing Patterns So You Don’t Take Them Personally
I call this building perspective. Any time people are together, there are explicit dynamics and implicit dynamics. Explicit dynamics are what you observe in how people behave toward one another. Implicit dynamics are the underlying patterns that those behaviors represent. In organizational life, there are predictable patterns that show up. These include power plays and what we think of as organizational politics.
Most people aren’t aware of these patterns. They might even actively eschew office politics, seeing themselves as above those kinds of games. Unfortunately, that too often means they fall victim to them. When you know about the patterns, on the other hand, it’s like you have a secret map. You can see what’s happening and navigate through it, in ways that still feel authentic and true to yourself. The result is much less pain and drain.
I want organizations to be led by people who truly care about others, and that’s why it’s become my mission to help heart-centered managers build these skills. I’d rather a compassionate leader learn how to play politics for good than a Machiavellian leader take advantage of others’ ignorance for their own gains.
Communicate in Ways that Reduce Conflict and Meet Your Goals
Of all of the tools and methods I’ve come across over the years in working with organizations and their leaders, one that has proven most useful is SAVI® or The System for Analyzing Verbal Interaction. Developed by Yvonne Agazarian and Anita Simon as a research tool, SAVI® gives us a way to uncover the patterns I just described, in concrete and observable ways. Each of the typical patterns of group life sounds a certain way. SAVI® gives a way to hear that so that we can identify the patterns and then – most importantly – choose effective strategies for moving through them.
SAVI® is extremely useful in helping you know what to do when you’re in conflict with someone. It helps you know how to influence people and make your case effectively when you’re negotiating for more resources or trying to reduce your workload. It helps you give feedback in ways that others can hear it. It gives you ways to respond when you feel criticized. In other words, SAVI® provides clear direction about what to do in every one of the scenarios that those survey respondents said were a drain to their resilience.
I’ve embedded elements of SAVI® in my coaching programs so my clients not only learn about this tool, but also strategized how to use it in their specific circumstances.
If you’d like to talk more about how these 3 elements can help you reach your goals, book a complimentary call with my team.
During your call, you’ll take a look at where you are and where you want to go and if what you have gong on is something we can help with, we’ll talk through what that can look like. If not, we’ll steer you towards other resources. The point of the call is for you to gain clarity about your next steps. We look forward to talking with you soon.
Here’s a video if you prefer to watch and listen to me talk about this topic: