Request a call


Top Tips on Building Personal and Professional Resilience

Our Director of International Relationships, Deborah Groves, shares her expertise on how to develop valuable life skills.

By Deborah Groves

Deborah is Oakwood's Associate Consultant and works in our Associate Team
More from Deborah >>

In a volatile and changing world that expects us to keep the everyday tasks running efficiently, manage change effectively and continuously improve ourselves - it’s no wonder we feel under pressure. At times, that pressure can be overwhelming. Coupled with the personal issues that affect us all at some time in our lives, it can all become too much. People break down, motivation can plummet and sickness and absence levels may rise as a result.

Do you ever sit back and wonder why some people seem to cope much better with these pressures than others?

The chances are, they possess a higher level of resilience - whether that is consciously known or unknown by them. This level or resilience has likely been shaped by a number of factors including: personal experience, upbringing, perceptions of themselves and the world outside and also the level of support (or perceived support) they have around them. Research tells us that there is also a significant link between levels of resilience in a person and the self- respect/self- esteem they hold for themselves.

Knowing, and importantly practising, methods which are known to develop personal resilience is a valuable life skill that can also be hugely helpful in our professional environment. It can also help us manage our peers, teams, and managers. It is also a skill that we can encourage and develop within our workforce.


Some top tips on building resilience:


1)      Try not to catastrophise! Is the issue you have really the end of the world? If we take time to look back at difficult or challenging situations that we have had in the past, most of us can see that, on reflection, things really weren’t that bad and importantly - we survived. This knowledge should be a benchmark which enables us to put things into perspective.


2)      Understand your trigger points. What’s the catalyst(s) that sends you ‘over the edge?’ Chances are that it’s usually the smallest thing that finally causes you to snap. Knowing when to move away from a situation, end a conversation, or ask for a break - is a learnable and valuable skill.


3)      Breathe. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but really - learn to breathe from your diaphragm. Sit straight, take a big breath in, fill your lungs, abdomen and headspace then breathe out gently. Do this a few times to clear your head, make space and re- balance yourself. 


4)      Be a sponge/learn to say nothing. When you find yourself in challenging situations such as people criticising you, blaming, accusing or directing their anger in your direction – visualise your brain being a sponge. Arguing back is only likely to escalate the situation and could upset both you and the other person further. Learn to soak up the words - don’t react- just take it in. Learn when to say nothing. When you feel you are being pushed by colleagues or managers, we often speak in anger, frustration or defiance that sometimes does a lot of damage. Try to visualise your mouth closing; breathe, then choose to say nothing. This is a powerful tool but may take some practice! The important point to remember, is that you must let the comments go. Find a space, take five minutes to breathe and to put the scene in perspective. Consider rationally what your response (if any) should be. If you do not take time to do this, the actions or comments may fester and replay in your mind – causing more frustration, anger or upset.  Let the comments go. 


5)      Be good to yourself. We often fuel our day with excesses of coffee and tea and junk food - especially when busy at work on a project or deadline. Remember, you must put real fuel into any engine if you wish it to perform to an optimum level. So, be good to yourself- take time to eat decent food- something other than junk. Appreciate that you need 5 minutes away from your desk every hour or so in order to process efficiently and most importantly get decent sleep.

As difficult as it may seem, discipline your rest and learn to turn off your phone at night - or at least - leave it outside of your sleep area. Yes, people really do that! Trust me, the world will not stop turning and you will survive the night.

In all seriousness, these personal welfare aspects are important and reflect your own level of self- esteem and self- worth. With practice this discipline will become a valuable habit that builds your personal resilience enormously. 


6)      Have an outlet and a champion. It is hugely important to have a place where you can offload or a person you can offload to – somewhere to ‘wring out your sponge’ Think of a person you trust simply to listen, empathise with you and then reassure you and send you on your way. Someone who you know is on your side. These are hugely important people, who are likely to make all the difference to whether you get up and carry on or sit down and give up.


7)      Have a theme tune. Is there a song or a lyric that you relate to- one that’s ‘your song’ that you relate to positively and makes you feel happy? No? Well - find one. Psychology experts agree that positive endorphins are released by hearing certain tunes so find your theme tune and play it in your head, and turn it up loud when the going gets tough.  Oh, there’s a song there in itself…….!  

At Oakwood International, we offer customised in-house training programs as well as accredited CIPDCIM and ILM qualifications that will help you achieve your personal and professional objectives. We are an accredited provider and we are proud to say that our educational services permit has been approved by KHDA.

 For more information please get in touch with us at: info@oakwooddubai.ae