Cartoon of a worker building resilience skills. She is sitting in the lotus position by her desk which is covered in piles of paper and a laptop. There is a light shining on her from above.
Image: © Nuthawut/

7 tips for building resilience skills at work

7 Jul 2023

Want to build resilience skills for work? It’s all in the way you approach challenges and new situations. Remember, colleagues can help.

Of all the skills and qualities to possess when it comes to the workplace, resilience is definitely one of the most important. Not only does being resilient help you as an individual, but it also affects how you interact with your team. Being resilient and able to weather challenges and problems that arise in the course of your working life means you will have an easier time of it in the long run.

Another good thing about resilience is that it can be learned. That’s what Shonna Waters, VP of behavioural science at professional-coaching platform BetterUp told us during the height of the pandemic. She said that “resilient individuals don’t necessarily have fewer stressors at work, but they are better able to cope with the challenges that do come their way and know how to compartmentalise their stress so that it doesn’t impact other parts of their life.”

It’s not just Waters who says resilience can be learned over time. Clinical psychologist Meg Jay spoke about this in her TED Talk a few years ago. “Resilience is not a trait. It’s not something you’re born with. It’s not something you just have,” she said.

The downside, perhaps, is that it takes practice and experience to become resilient, and that means facing down challenges as they happen and learning from them. There are no rules to being resilient, but there are strategies psychologists and mental health professionals recommend. Let’s take a look at some of these in a workplace context.

Cultivate self-awareness

This is all about reflecting on your strengths, weaknesses and stress triggers to better understand your emotional responses. Acknowledge when you’re not feeling your strongest and when you’re struggling and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

Foster a supportive network

You don’t have to let everyone know what’s going on in your head all the time. But having people you can trust in your corner will always benefit you and you can turn to them when you need support and encouragement.

Whether it’s a mentor offering constructive feedback, a work friend who is always there to hear you vent or offer you advice, or supportive colleagues who have your back, you’ll be happier at work with good people.

Embrace a growth mindset

New responsibilities can be scary and overwhelming, but if you learn to embrace them as opportunities to learn new things and develop your career, it can help. Even if you make a mistake, it’s an opportunity to learn and get feedback from that supportive work network.

Having a growth mindset can also help you become more adaptable, which is a great quality to have alongside resilience. It’s not to say that if you’re resilient and adaptable, you’ll be unstoppable, but your responses to uncertainties and changes in your working life will more than likely be positive rather than negative.

Build effective coping strategies

Identify the healthy coping mechanisms that work for you, such as exercise, mindfulness or engaging in hobbies. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep each night, eat well and have a healthy work-life balance to avoid burnout, which can adversely impact your resilience.

Develop problem-solving skills

Break down complex issues into manageable parts and approach them with a structured problem-solving framework. Take a look at this piece about problem-solving skills for further insights.

Ask for input from your colleagues, brainstorm ideas and evaluate potential solutions to build resilience in navigating challenges.

Seek learning opportunities

Look for professional development opportunities, training programmes or workshops that enhance your skills and knowledge.

Ask for help if you need it to hone a particular skill, especially from colleagues that have a strength in that area. This is known as knowledge sharing, and you can help others with the skills you have to share.

Celebrate progress

This last one is important as you won’t know you’re resilient if you don’t stop and tell yourself that you are. If you overcome something you were a bit nervous about, then do something nice for yourself as a way of acknowledging it. Every small challenge you overcome in the workplace makes you a more confident, well-rounded person, and that is worth celebrating.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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