Personal Resilience - Or Is It Personal?

As those who follow me will know, I consult and coach on communications and on personal resilience. The communication part is where I show a variety of ways of communicating with others in a variety of difficult and challenging situations. Deescalating the angry, engaging with the sad, halting the swearers, etc.

 The personal resilience aspect is about keeping yourself well so that you can do your job well. If you have a difficult time at work, and for a lot of us it is in challenging communications, then you will be impacted by that negative encounter therefore it is very important to look after yourself. To look after your well-being, to look after your brain. 

Having been involved in this work for nearly 10 years, anecdotal evidence suggests that the main cause of a person's mental decline is their work. A bold statement but one that I stand by until I am proved wrong. 

Of the 16 hours that we spend awake, 11 of those involve work - preparing to go to work, travelling to work, at work, and travelling back home after work. Of the 5 waking hours remaining, perhaps 2 or 3 of those hours will be spent with family and friends, or doing what we like to do to relax. That's a lot of time working or thinking about work. And, I haven't factored in the time spent clearing emails just before bedtime. 

 For five days a week the majority of our time is spent around our work. And this impacts negatively on our 'brain' health. Work scratches away at our armour, it weakens it. Then something happens in our personal life which pierces the weakened armour and we may quickly become unwell. The sad thing about this is that I still hear some employers saying that the decline has nothing to do with work as it was a personal issue in the employee’s private life. Really?

For me, personal resilience is global, it’s holistic. And work plays a significant part in your well-being or decline thereof. I once heard a senior executive say that there is no health and safety issue in a call centre because there is nothing to fall off or trip over. Everyone laughed except me. What about the mental health and safety issues? What is worse, actually tripping over a power cable left on the floor or the worry that you will trip over it? The latter of course. 

There is no doubt that you can remain resilient, or buoyant as I prefer to say, if you look after yourself adequately. However, employers and managers also play an important part. They set the example for their team and are in a position to help their staff to cope with their work by managing the workloads, giving time out, rewarding for good work, and the many other things t support personal resilience. 

That's why personal resilience isn't personal, perhaps I should now use the term resiliency.