“Other people matter” is the pithy finding of noted psychology researchers Christopher Peterson, Jane Dutton, Kim Cameron and others. This concept especially applies to dealing with adversity and so the seventh and last principle in building resilience is: Reach out to others.
This principle has two components – reaching out to others to ask for help, as well as reaching out to others to offer help.
Asking for help is often difficult to do. For people who have a socialised “cowboys-don’t-cry” attitude, even the idea of admitting to having a problem can be very threatening, never mind asking for help. Males, as a generalisation, seem to have more difficulty than females when it comes to asking for help. In addition, and again as a generalisation, the more senior a person is in the organisational hierarchy, the more difficult it is to ask for help. This may be because asking for and accepting assistance may be perceived as a weakness or demonstration of not being up to the task and a sign of not coping. Other concerns about asking for help include:
• “I will feel embarrassed”
• “It will make me look stupid”
• “The person wont respect me afterwards”
• “The person wont want to help”
• “I will be surrendering control to another person”
• “The other person may ask for something in return”
As a consequence of these fears, we may err on the side of delay in asking for help and thereby possibly allow the problem to get worse. Like most difficult conversations, it is thus better to have the conversation about asking for help sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, offering and giving support and assistance to others is usually an easier conversation – particularly in a work context if one’s role requires mentoring and coaching. There is a payoff for the person giving the support – assisting others in need boosts the giver’s resilience, even in cases when the giver is experiencing adversity themselves.
To bring this principle of building resilience home to yourself, there are two questions you may like to consider. Firstly, when you go through tough times to whom can you reach out to for assistance? Secondly, who is going through tough times to whom you can offer assistance and advice?
Answering these questions for yourself will help build your inner resourcefulness and buffering capability – your resilience to cope with adversity, heal, move on and flourish.