“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!”
Peter M. Senge
There are many training and people development organisations working in the area of resilience. Mostly, they are concerned with supporting people to build their resilience focusing on health and wellbeing, stress management and helping people to integrate their work as a fundamental part of their lives (sloppily referred to as “work-life balance”).
The primary concern is to encourage people to develop coping mechanisms when their resilience is low. The talk is all about “bouncing back”.
What about people who have too much resilience?
This is regularly overlooked in resilience programmes and often completely ignored, yet people with too much resilience can be more challenging to work with as those with low levels of resilience. Too much resilience can be seen at the Board level and within senior management teams. For this reason, resilience programmes should be looking at developing resilience.
Nobody would suggest that Donald Trump needs to build his resilience, but it certainly needs developing!
Donald Trump does not “bounce”, he steamrollers his views and opinions without due consideration for others. He does not appear to listen. If anyone disagrees with him, he fires them as if he is still at the helm of the TV show “The Apprentice”.
By driving through what he wants and adapting to quickly to changing situations, he appears not to care about others’ feelings. By pushing his own agenda too quickly he can appear to be too emotionally controlled and show this in inappropriate ways by mocking the emotional expression in other people. He demonstrates too much resilience – especially in relation to the emotions of others. By not comprehending the anxieties of others and by not understanding their inability to respond in the same way shows a lack of empathy, a degree of selfishness and a perceived lack of caring.
Leaders have a duty to regard and treat others as fellow human beings with perceptions different from theirs, to understand these differences and to ensure that they are emotionally engaged and supported. Having this attitude allows other people to adjust within their own time and in their own way. Without this approach, the actions of those with too much resilience don’t help those who find it difficult to adapt or who get stuck. In certain circumstances, they may come across as self-centred.
How to develop the resilience of those people with too much?
This is extremely challenging. The usual type of resilience programme will fall short.
How would you go about working with Donald Trump to develop his resilience?
A meta-study of 19 resilience measures reported as reliable and valid concluded that there is no gold standard measure of resilience (Windle G., Bennett K. and J. Noyes (2011). Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 9:8). Assessments of personal resilience are unlikely to be helpful with a person with too much resilience anyhow – they will react with impatience and aggression responding with comments such as “I know that already” and “So what?”.
Some people with too much resilience will prove impossible to change. Fortunately, most senior executives recognise when they have issues and have the strength of character to want to make the necessary changes.
Coaching using Clean Language questions is a useful technique. It is the practice of exploring metaphors, listening and observing with full attention on the words being used (and non-verbal signals) without giving advice, sharing opinions or adding in any assumptions around the metaphors used.
Everyone’s way of experiencing the world is different yet all communication directs attention in some way. Clean questions have been perfected over the years to reduce the direction, assumptions, and inferences that they contain. This minimizes the amount of contamination from the coach asking the questions to free up the resources of the person being questioned so that they can think effectively for themselves. This is important so that the person can do their very best thinking, can explore their inner world and take responsibility for their own choices.
Learn more about resilience, stress and stress management here