Resilience at Work: How to Succeed No Matter What Life Throws at You / Edition 1

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Overview

"Why do some people remain so calm and collected in the face of looming deadlines, combative meetings, impending layoffs, and turbulent changes? And why are these seemingly unflappable people the ones who consistently get ahead in their lives and their careers?

The key to success is their resilience, according to the founders of the innovative Hardiness Institute in Newport Beach, California. More than experience or training, resilience in the face of stressful situations and rapid changes determines whether you ultimately succeed or fail in the workplace. It allows you to thrive even in tumultuous conditions, to turn potential disasters into growth opportunities.

And the good news for the legions of other workers who become overwhelmed, and even sickened, by stress is that resilience in the face of life’s problems is not an inborn personality trait, but a set of skills and attitudes that you can actually learn and develop. Resilience at Work gives you the knowledge, tools, and encouragement you need to embark on your journey to becoming a hardier, more successful person.

Based on a twelve-year study of Illinois Bell Telephone employees as they experienced immense organizational change, as well as hundreds of subsequent studies and firsthand consulting and training experience, the book shows how to enhance your capacity to succeed in even the harshest economic climates.

Packed with insightful examples, case studies, and self-assessment tools, Resilience at Work explains how to:

• Approach change as a meaningful challenge no matter how stressful the circumstances, and stay committed to your work, rather than detaching and giving up.

• Gain control by understanding the upside and the downside of change, and take actions to influence beneficial outcomes.

• Turn stressful changes to your advantage and map out sound problem-solving strategies.

• Resolve ongoing conflicts and build an environment of assistance and encouragement between you and your coworkers.

• Decrease feelings of isolation and powerlessness by understanding the 3Cs that give you the ability to thrive amid disruptive changes: commitment, control, and challenge.

Reorganization, downsizing, mergers, budget pressures, transfers, job insecurity, and more are producing today’s unpredictable, pressure-cooker conditions, and making it harder for less resilient people to achieve the success they deserve. Resilience at Work supplies insights and strategies you can use to combat your fear of change and uncover the opportunities that can be found in even the most stressful situations."

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher

"""Resilience at Work offers a masterfully original and practical perspective on how to enhance health, morale, happiness, and performance by learning how to build on stressful events and not be undermined by them."" -- Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine

""Resilience at Work holds the keys we need to go beyond survival to thrive in today's complex workplace. Maddi and Khoshaba build on their research and practice developing ‘personal hardiness’ to offer us sensible, practical guidelines for building a firm foundation of resilience that works on the job and in our personal lives."" -- Philip G. Zimbardo, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Emeritus, Stanford University

""Unlike most self-help books, Resilience at Work is based on solid empirical research. It is refreshing to see how these two renowned psychologists are able to translate their scientific findings and theoretical concepts into an engaging and inspiring story."" -- Dr. Paul T. P. Wong, President, International Network on Personal Meaning

""A unique resource that promotes constructive coping with stress as it arises in organizational contexts. The book is psychologically sound and clearly written. Its array of relevant cases from the authors' extensive experience makes it humanly appealing."" -- M. Brewster Smith, former President of the American Psychological Association

""Maddi and Khoshaba have translated their groundbreaking research on the science of human personality into deep insights and practical guidelines that show us how to cope and flourish amid the daunting challenges we face in the workplace today."" -- Dan P. McAdams, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Foley Center for the Study of Lives, Northwestern University"

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814472606
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Salvatore R. Maddi obtained his doctorate in clinical psychology from Harvard University in 1960. He began developing the resilience and hardiness approach in 1975, and founded the Hardiness Institute in 1984. The author of nearly 100 papers, he is internationally recognized as a leader in psychology, and continues to win prestigious awards for his hardiness-based consulting and research work. An international survey in 1986 named him among the top 175 psychologists in the world.

Deborah M. Khoshaba has been a professional psychologist for the past fifteen years and is director of Program Development and Training at the Hardiness Institute. Deborah teaches graduate students in psychology at Pepperdine University, and lectures for psychology undergraduates at the University of California, at Irvine. Her professional activities and published works include the areas of resilience, coping, and human potential.

Organizations the authors have consulted to include Kawasaki, the University of Southern California, Illinois Bell Telephone, and Baxter HealthCare Corporation. They have appeared on CNN and in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. Both authors live in Laguna Beach, California.

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Table of Contents

"Preface

Introduction

Chapter 1: Resilience in the Face of Change

Chapter 2: Researching Stress and Resiliency

Chapter 3: How Hardiness Promotes Resilience

Chapter 4: You Can Learn to Be Resilient

Chapter 5: Do You Have the Right Attitudes to Thrive in Adversity?

Chapter 6: Practicing Your Attitudes of Commitment, Control and Challenge

Chapter 7: Transformational Coping: Turning Stressful Changes to Your Advantage

Chapter 8: Practicing Transformational Coping

Chapter 9: Social Support: Giving and Receiving Assistance and Encouragement

Chapter 10 Practicing Socially Supportive Interactions

Chapter 11 Strengthening Employer and Employee Ties

Chapter 12 How Companies Can Boost Resilience in Their Workers and in Themselves"

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First Chapter

Resilience at Work


By Salvatore M. Maddi Deborah Khoshaba

AMACOM Books

Copyright © 2005 Salvatore M. Maddi and Deborah Khoshaba
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-8144-7260-5


Chapter One

YOU CAN LEARN TO BE RESILIENT

Resilient people seem so capable that it is easy to think they were born that way. Certainly, some youngsters do show early signs of hardiness. Think of youngsters eager to learn everything and interested in everything around them, as compared to youngsters less involved in life. But, even if hardier adults report enthusiastic and purposeful childhoods, it may be a mistake to conclude that genes determine resiliency. After all, we know that some people emerge as hardy only later in their development. So where does resilience come from?

EARLY EXPERIENCES THAT BUILD RESILIENCE

Our early IBT research gave us clues to the origins of hardiness. Years later, Debbie analyzed IBT's employee interview data, as to early conditions that differentiated the resilient and nonresilient employee groups. Researchers in the early study were blind to the employee hardiness levels of those with whom they interacted.

* EARLY STRESS. Interestingly, many of the employees who tested high in hardiness reported stressful early lives. Their stress included serious illnesses in themselves or family members, single-parent households, divorces, financial difficulties, unemployment, alcoholism or substance abuse in family members, and frequent, disruptive changes in residence. These early lives if anything were more stressful than reported by those employees low in hardiness.

* SENSE OF PURPOSE. Another important feature of those high in resilience is that many of them recalled their parents' singling them out as special in some important way. Talents, skills, maturity, or other unique, defining features contributed to parents elevating these children's role within the family. As such, the parents supported these youngsters' capabilities through either encouraging their gifts and talents or assigning them family responsibilities, or both. These children developed a keen sense of purposeful direction in school, community, and work activities. In contrast to less determined youngsters, these children emerged hardier, responsive to growth-promoting opportunities, and creative in carving out niches that fully expressed themselves.

* NURTURED CONFIDENCE. In school, teachers or other adults spotted and nurtured these youngsters. This helped their confidence. These youngsters' openness to and involvement with the environment must have gotten their teachers' attention. In any event, the high-resilience employees had found learning stimulating and fun. They further expected their efforts to lead to good results and cherished their central roles at home and at school. When these hardier youngsters encountered personal frustrations or setbacks, they utilized the help and encouragement of others.

What exactly did the resilient IBT employees learn about themselves in their youth? They learned that they were important enough to fully engage in living (commitment attitude), they could influence positively much of what happens to them (control attitude), and they could use ongoing changes in ways that benefited their development and growth (challenge attitude). Their hardy attitudes helped them to embrace life and to develop resources to cope effectively with life's circumstances.

EARLY EXPERIENCES THAT UNDERMINE RESILIENCE

In contrast, the nonresilient employees remembered their childhood experiences differently.

* LITTLE FAMILY ENCOURAGEMENT. Some recalled parents who rigidly advocated to them about rules, values, and family norms. They recalled few times, if any, when their parents made them feel especially capable or talented. If they did, however, it was inconsistent, oftentimes the result of external pressures rather than personal sentiment. Many within this group only vaguely recalled meaningful family interactions and attributed much of this to outside preoccupations that undermined family functioning. For various reasons, in their youth, these adults recalled limited encouragement, help, and empathy from their parents. They also reported that, before long, they began hiding their feelings, frustrations, and problems from their parents.

* NO SENSE OF PURPOSE. The nonresilient employees insufficiently appreciated how school and other community activities served as stepping stones to a fulfilling life. Vaguely defined talents and goals undermined their ability to grasp the larger picture.

* LACK OF INVOLVEMENT. As children, this group also shied away from teachers. They did what they could to get by in school, with little sense of involvement or influence. Even though some of them did well academically, they still felt socially inadequate. These employees reported more unhappiness at home and at school than their more resilient coworkers.

As you can see, the nonresilient IBT employees did not have hardy attitudes and skills. As youngsters, they learned early to avoid life's problems (alienation as opposed to commitment), to refrain from influencing the manageable aspects of change (powerlessness as opposed to control), and to fear changes that disrupt stability (threat as opposed to challenge). These self-defeating attitudes toward living prevented them from coping and interacting effectively under pressure.

CAN RESILIENCE BE LEARNED IN CHILDHOOD?

Genetic inheritance affects our performance and health on many levels, but you can learn resilience as a child. There are many examples of people, genetically disadvantaged and thus vulnerable, who have nonetheless overcome such limitations, sometimes in extraordinary ways. In contrast, there are also just as many examples of people who, though apparently well-endowed genetically, are surprisingly low in hardiness.

Our IBT employee-history interviews showed how early experiences can be a formative influence on resilience. The development of hardy attitudes and skills in children varies with certain characteristics of their environment and parental interaction. What is the gist of this childhood hardiness? Circumstances that provide children with opportunities to find purpose, direction, and meaning in dealing with stressful changes strengthen resilient attitudes and resources within them. The resilient IBT employees' early losses, setbacks, supportive parenting, and teachings gave them numerous opportunities to learn how to turn change to advantage and to use constructively the support from which to accomplish this.

CAN YOU LEARN RESILIENCE IN ADULTHOOD?

As long as you can use life experiences to grow, psychologically and socially, you can learn to be resilient as an adult. Resist falling into the trap of thinking that once you reach adulthood, you are what you are, and nothing will change that. Hardiness research, detailed below, indicates that adolescents and adults can learn to be resilient.

HARDINESS TRAINING

Our efforts to foster hardiness in adults began at IBT, in the years following the deregulation upheavals. IBT decision makers came to us, indicating that they knew us as careful and determined researchers, but wondered if we could also help their employees to become more resilient. The company was then in the throes of massive downsizing and reorganization, with the aim of being competitive in the new telecommunications industry. These upheavals were taking a great toll on the employees, and they needed hardiness badly.

In the first practical application of our research, we put together a hardiness training program based on our findings about hardiness we had found in the resilient group and the parent/child relationships they had reported. Specifically, we devised techniques and exercises to help trainees handle stressful circumstances by turning them to advantage (rather than by avoiding or attacking them) and to help them interact with others by giving and receiving assistance and encouragement (rather than by deepening ongoing conflicts). Also, we included ways to use the feedback from these efforts to deepen the attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge. In addition, the trainers tried to give the encouragement and support to trainees implementing the techniques and exercises that the resilient employees in our research sample had reported getting from their parents. As you will see later, the training was effective in helping trainees learn hardy coping, social interaction, and attitudes. It is this training procedure that has led to the exercises you will encounter in chapters 6, 8, and 10. The beleaguered IBT employees benefited greatly from this training. The abiding emphasis of our hardiness training program is on transformational coping and supportive social interactions and using these to deepen the attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge.

* TRANSFORMATIONAL COPING. Through mental and behavioral actions, you transform the features of stressful changes and use them to advantage. At the mental level, stressful circumstances are placed into broader perspectives, so they can be managed more easily. An example is the time perspective, which may help you realize that the deadlines are all this week, so that next week you can get back to normal. You also learn how to deepen your understanding of problems, so you know what to do to solve them. An example is the recognition that the stress is based on unfortunate but resolvable misunderstandings between you and your boss. At the action level, mental insights are used to plan and carry out decisive courses of problem-solving actions. The feedback gained from carrying out these activities deepens your hardy attitudes of commitment, control, and challenge. This process leads to greater resilience under stress.

* SUPPORTIVE SOCIAL INTERACTIONS. The other abiding emphasis of our hardiness training program strives to foster supportive interactions that can help solve problems. Here, you identify and resolve ongoing conflicts that exist between you and others, and replace them with patterns of sharing assistance and encouragement. In doing this, you learn communication, listening, and behavior skills that bring about supportive interactions to improve relationships. Often, the trainee has to take the first steps unilaterally in trying to improve the relationships. The training process helps you to both understand and accept this approach, by realizing that if you are helpful to a coworker, it will be difficult for him or her not to respond in kind.

Trainees practice these coping and support skills in real-life circumstances and use the feedback they get from their efforts to deepen their hardy attitudes. They emerge with the knowledge and skills to turn potentially disruptive stresses into advantages. Once the program is over, they have developed the courage, motivation, and strategies to approach stressful circumstances resiliently.

* GAUGING THE RESULTS. By now, there are a number of research studies of working adults and college students, all of which show the effectiveness of this type of resiliency training. The general pattern of the studies uses questionnaires to measure the hardiness levels in the participants before the training begins and after it is over. In addition, we measure their job or school performance in relevant ways, before and after training. To clarify the relative effectiveness of our training program, we further compare the participants to people who receive other special training or no training at all.

At IBT, we compared IBT employees going through hardiness training to other IBT employees still on the training wait list. Those who had completed the training were hardier, performed better on the job, were more satisfied with their job, and had a greater sense of personal fulfillment than those still on the waiting list. Their stress, strain, anxiety, depression, and blood pressure also simultaneously decreased, and their supervisors' performance evaluations of them improved. These group differences persisted over the six months following the end of the training program.

There have been other studies of hardiness training for working adults who are undergoing great changes. When these adults went through specific training for hardiness, as compared to other adult trainees who received more conventional stress-management training, the results matched those already discussed. These other studies of similar training programs reinforce the value and effectiveness of hardiness training.

When we do hardiness training in the workplace, we typically arrange for there to be an "alumni" meeting, roughly one month after the training is over. This is an opportunity for trainees to meet once again, share what has been happening to them after the training, and fill out a questionnaire about how the training has affected them. Across the various groups, 90 percent of the working adults find the training of marked value and 93 percent feel that they have definitely improved in their ability to deal with stressful circumstances.

By now, there are also research studies of hardiness training with college students. In these, the training for resilience is offered as a regular credit course for students who need or want it. These courses offer similar training to that used for working adults, and show similar results. Not only does questionnaire-based hardiness increase as students go through the course, so too do their grade-point averages and retention in school over the next two years.

Taken together, these research findings on the effectiveness of hardiness training show a number of beneficial results that persist over time:

* Trainees become more imaginative about how to bridge the gap between their needs and those of their company and coworkers. They are no longer overcome with panic, anger, and detachment.

* They feel more self-confident, as they think through all the changes that are taking place. They no longer feel inadequate and vulnerable.

* They feel more energetic and enthusiastic on a day-to-day basis. They have fewer headaches, upset stomachs, aches and pains, and don't have trouble getting out of bed anymore.

* They feel more involved in the events going on around them, and think they can really make a difference. They don't think of themselves as victims being preyed upon by those in power.

* They have a sense of a better future for themselves, rather than thinking it is only other people that can get what they want in life.

* They procrastinate and avoid less, and do less stress-related eating and drinking.

* As they come to feel less overwhelmed and powerless, they cut corners and disregard rules less.

* They feel more flexible, and open to whatever happens. It is less likely that they get stuck in old beliefs about how the world works, as they become more open to possibilities and how they can actually improve their lives.

SUMMARY

Developing resilience in people is our life's work.

Continues...


Excerpted from Resilience at Work by Salvatore M. Maddi Deborah Khoshaba Copyright © 2005 by Salvatore M. Maddi and Deborah Khoshaba. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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