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What's under the surface impacts resilience

In my presentations about conflict resolution, collaboration, resilience and workplace culture I often refer to the analogy of an iceberg to describe how little issues can have significant impacts. For example, you can only see the tip of the iceberg (what is above the surface of the water), however, the mass of the iceberg is below the surface of the water. It is the current of the water, not the wind, that moves the iceberg and the same is true in conflict, change and stress. When conflict arises, we experience change, or are faced with crisis (e.g. a pandemic) our resilience is impacted and it can feel like you are stuck in the mud. Change and crisis is messy, there is uncertainty and can be lonely (even in a room of people).

The currents of what is really going on (under the surface of the water) shapes how we show up, what we think, how we respond to those thoughts and, how we act/behave. In conflict and crisis, what is happening below the surface (underlying interests, assumptions unchecked, underlying values and beliefs, etc.) drives people's positions and actions. One belief, assumption, action can impact others... almost like a chain reaction.

In a recent interview on the Working Well Podcast with host Tim Borys, we were talking about the impact of stress and trauma on mental health, coping in a pandemic, and some of the fears and challenges around returning to the office. For many, they can't wait to be with colleagues and be back in the office.

For others, the thought of leaving the routines of the past couple of years is overwhelming. For many individuals, there is a lot going on under the iceberg... uncertainty, new rules to adhere to, different processes for specific task, a different structure or routine, and the list goes on. The skillsets for resilience are so important right now for workplaces. Here are a few tips to returning to work and managing what's under the iceberg:

  • Deal with what is going on below the surface (such as issues) as they arise. Little issues become bigger when not attended to.

  • Create new routines. Re-establish workplace culture and relationships.

  • Take time everyday to nurture your resilience. Resilience is like a bank account- you have to keep making deposits for there to be a positive balance when you need it most.

  • Find time for connection and take steps to rebuilding relationships.

As well, check out the conversation that Michael Mankowski and I had with Tim about our upcoming animated movie, Back Home Again. The movie will be released this fall and was created to be a conversation starter about mental health. Inspired by community resilience after one of the largest wildfire evacuations in Canadian history impacted the lives of more than 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray and area in 2016, the animated short film titled, Back Home Again, has been brought to life through the support of the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Mental Health Association, Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo Economic Development & Tourism and Paul Davis Restoration Inc.

Michael is the Screenwriter/Director of the movie and I am Executive Producer. In our conversations with Tim, we talk about the impact of crisis and disasters on mental health, how to start conversations and more. You can listen to the podcast conversation here:

Remember... deal with what's under the iceberg. This is not always easy, comfortable or speedy, but letting things build up can have long term impacts on our mental health and relationships. As my friend Sam Demma says, Small Consistent Actions!


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