Why Is It So Important to Develop Emotional Resilience?

Why Is It So Important to Develop Emotional Resilience?

At any time on this planet, from Neanderthals onwards, life has had its challenges. They have just varied over the centuries. Responses have varied too. At one time we prided ourselves in keeping calm and carrying on. It is now not fashionable – and many say not desirable - to adopt the stiff upper lip approach.

But flopping around unable to get back on one’s feet is not helpful either. I have come across far, far too many people who crumble over very little and are genuinely knocked sideways by difficult but small events. It’s not much fun for them, their families or their employers.

To survive and thrive it absolutely is essential to develop resilience, i.e. the ability to deal with life’s knocks and get up and get going again.

The difference between those who are not very resilient and those who are is that resilient people view difficulty as a challenge, not as an unpleasant or upsetting event. They see failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from. The see opportunities for growth - hell, they even see beating the problems as fun!

The benefits are huge. Resilient people tend to be happier, more positive and less susceptible to mental ill health for the following reasons. Typically, they:

  • see change and uncertainty as an opportunity, not a threat;
  • stay active and motivated;
  • promote innovation;
  • build both physical and emotional wellbeing;
  • maintain a positive attitude and optimistic vision of the future;
  • stay mentally strong;
  • are more productive.

Most people aren’t born resilient, but like all skills it can be learned. With some practice an individual can learn the skills and techniques to become far more emotionally resilient, increasing the capacity to withstand and manage stress effectively. It includes being able to adapt to changing circumstances and bounce back in the face of adversity.

If you want to boost your resilience, start by accepting yourself for what you are. Identify what you do well and give yourself credit for it.

That said, no one’s perfect. Resilient people know what they need to do better and will always learn from a situation, including developing and applying stress management techniques. We all make mistakes and if we’re prepared to do so, most of us can get better at all sorts of things. Develop the ability to adapt and shift perspectives. Be realistic. Accept your mistakes, focus on being optimistic, avoid negative internal talk and be willing to learn how to manage better next time.

We can’t always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond. A good example is in the famous line: Two men looked out from prison bars, one saw the mud, the other saw stars.”

As part of this choice a resilient person keeps a sense of proportion and both manages and expresses emotions temperately.

As regards employment, it’s very clear that having staff with a resilient outlook is likely to make running a business easier and it’s likely to be a happier place too.

How can an employer encourage greater resilience in the workforce?

  1. Demonstrate effective leadership. Employees should understand what they are doing (and why),and what results are expected of them.
  2. Create an environment where staff receive encouragement to learn (and that includes learning from mistakes) and support in the pursuit of their growth. Encourage staff to understand that things will go wrong, that persistence is needed and the right approach is to “get back on the horse” if things go wrong.
  3. A resilient work environment should incorporate values such as trust, honesty and fairness. Employees should be treated with courtesy and taught how to interact positively with colleagues and other stakeholders.
  4. Be supportive of employees’ mental health concerns; responding appropriately as needed.
  5. Provide appropriate acknowledgement and appreciation of employees in a fair and timely manner. Recognition of employees’ achievements is an effective tactic in building confident individuals and successful teams.
  6. Help your staff to effectively manage their tasks and prioritise work. A healthy work environment means a place where all tasks and responsibilities can be accomplished successfully within the time available (that includes realistic expectations from the management, setting up manageable deadlines, and eliminating distractions).
  7. Enable employees to achieve a balance between the demands of work, family and personal life
  8. Keep your team motivated and actively participating in various tasks and activities. Focus on things like development, engagement, and boosting confidence and self-esteem in your team members.
  9. Include employees in discussions about how their work is done, how company goals are expected to be achieved, how important decisions are made, and what changes are in the pipeline.

When we are faced with challenges and changes in life, resilience helps us to deal with and manage those changes. It also helps us adapt in times of adversity to manage sources of stress and possible trauma. without experiencing a significant impact on our wellbeing. It’s every person’s responsibility to develop resilience and a wise employer will do all it can to encourage it.


If you’re an employer with HR queries and problems, get in touch!


Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2023 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.