A perplexing question!
During my keynote resilience talks for Cognacity, I am regularly asked why we suddenly need to spend time on building individual psychological resilience in organisations? Why did people 20 and 30 years ago seem to manage just fine without it?
The reality is that due to the technology and information boom, the psychological landscape has changed significantly in the past 10 years. It is estimated that the amount of information we are confronted with on a daily basis has almost doubled in the last 20 years. As a result, the gap between what technology allows us to do and our ability to keep pace is getting bigger.
Complications and perceptions
Our minds did not evolve to ignore new information, especially that which relates to bad news, office politics, comparisons to others, and so on. This is sometimes known as ‘selective information processing bias’ which describes the human tendency to focus on negative information disproportionately. It is this disproportion that can lead to constant worry and anxiety and turn natural levels of stress into chronic stress. And in the meantime, in order to keep up with the information reaching us, we work longer hours, try to multitask, and spend less time recovering. Modern research is showing that these strategies are not only ineffective but counterproductive – to both health and performance.
The good news
Despite all these stressors and other demands, human beings have an amazing ability to adjust to difficult situations, often displaying high levels of psychological resilience. Learning practical skills to develop resilience and deal with the pressures in today’s workplace is now a source of competitive advantage.
We are unfortunately so subjectively involved in our own lives that we very often struggle to get ourselves out of this rut. This is the reason why intervention from psychology professionals can play a significant part in helping people and organisations to deal better with the mental demands of modern times and develop better psychological resilience. This is no longer about crisis management, but business as usual.
Written by Dr Philip Hopley.