Building Resilience Through Emotional Intelligence and Emotional Resilience

As mentioned during the Seminar, resilience is the ability to reintegrate after disruptive events, revert to previous condition after difficult circumstances, flexibly adapt to challenging situations and to “bounce back”.  It made me reflect back on  the talk by the guest lecturer where she mentioned that setbacks, challenges and difficulties are guaranteed experiences. To strengthen resilience in the workplace, one can communicate normalcy, create identity anchors, build one’s social capital and develop alternative thinking. However, one also needs emotional intelligence and emotional resilience to strengthen resilience in the workplace. This essay will  explain these with real-life examples.

To build resilience in the workplace, a leader needs to develop emotional intelligence which is the ‘ability to understand and manage emotions in ourselves and others’ (Psychology Foundation, n.d.). We can understand and relate to other people’s feelings and understand how our emotions affect others in the workplace. It has to be acknowledged that it is a difficult task to control all our feelings effectively but it is an essential skill to learn. If we are overwhelmed by our own emotions, it make affect rational judgement and decision making and we might be unable to get along with others. Thus, we need to learn to cultivate emotional intelligence as being awa (GCC, 2012)re of our and others emotions will help in building our capacity for resilience in times of challenges and adversity. This is something that has to be constantly worked on in today’s globalized world  with rapid technology and socio-political changes which makes conditions in the economy volatile and unpredictable and we need to invest in our resiliency “portfolio”. One example is the Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani who was viewed as a strict and emotionless leader. However, the collapse of the World Trade Centre in 2001 revealed a side of him which showed resolve, empathy and inspiration. He was able to handle his emotions and those of others which appropriating the right action according to the situation. His emotional intelligence thus enabled him to deal with the situation while calming the emotions of those around him. Hence, to build resilience, we “must make a commitment to the continuous nourishment, rejuvenation and replenishment of our emotional energies” to deal with adversity (International Workplace, 2012).

Secondly, employees need to develop emotional resilience in the workplace. Emotional resilience is defined as the “ability to adapt to stressful situations or crises” (Rainey, 2014). According to research done, emotional resilience is something that can be learned or improved upon constantly and continuously and “how we cope with adversity and how we cope with catastrophe are on a continuum” (Rainey, 2014). If one is emotionally resilient, they will be able to maintain their productivity and performance in times of challenges. Hence, it is important for one to have the knowledge, skills and support structure to develop emotional resilience and they have to effectively self-manage their stress on a daily basis. This can be done by providing psychological skills training and physiological stress management techniques to empower employees to recognize, understand and manage their stress-responses. The emotional and physical health needs of employees also needs to be nourished by promoting healthy practices, freedom and flexibility to pursue work-life balance to self-manage their individual health and lifestyle needs. This will thus build engagement, loyalty and morale in the workplace, thus building their emotional resilience when faced with adversity. One example is the 2003 SARS Crisis in Singapore where “support from colleagues, taking precautionary measures and  getting clear directives and disease information” helped the staff to cope with the psychological impact of the epidemic (Sim & Chan, 2004) . Prior to this, staff already had a good working relationship and many felt that their physical and emotional were well-taken care of. Hence, developing emotional resilience enables employees to be better able to cope with the pressures and taking care of their needs increases their  sense of belonging which in turn, increases their sense of responsibility and resilience in the face of adversity.

In conclusion, although several methods were mentioned during class to strengthen resilience in the workplace, I personally feel that developing emotional intelligence and emotional resilience is the foundation that has to be built upon and strengthened. Without being aware of one’s own and others’ emotion, how can one react according to the situation? One can develop methods but has to execute them appropriately. Moreover, emotional resilience needs to be cultivated continuously by showing care and concern for your employees and their development. Every company needs the support of their employees to function and overcome adversity. Resilience in the workplace cannot be guaranteed as people respond differently based on their thoughts, personality and feelings. But by taking consistent steps, it can lead to a more integrative strategy that enables a company to rise and overcome adversity.


Foundation, P. (n.d.). Bouncing Back How Workplace Resiliency Can Work For You. The Psychology Foundation of Canada .

GCC. (2012, July 7). Workplace Resilience – Taking Action. Retrieved from GCC Employee Wellness Blog:

Rainey, S. (2014, February 25). Emotional resilience: it’s the armour you need for modern life. Retrieved from The Telegraph:

Sim, S. S., & Chan, Y. H. (2004). Psychological impact of the SARS outbreak on a Singaporean rehabilitation department. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation .

Workplace, T. I. (2012, February 23). Building Resiliency through Emotional Awareness. Retrieved from The International Workplace:



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