Adversity in the workplace refers to a difficulty or challenge faced by an individual employee, a team or even the entire business, and it’s something we will all have to deal with at some point in our careers. There are many different types of adversity in the workplace, including:

  • Physical adversity– this can include physical disabilities and the layout of the office space
  • Mental adversity – adapting to work with others whose personalities may differ greatly from our own
  • Emotional adversity – dealing with criticism and other feedback
  • Social adversity – building and maintaining relationships
  • Financial adversity – Budget restrictions which may affect pay or resources

But whatever the challenges we face, how we react to them makes a big difference, both to the eventual outcome and our stress levels. When we encounter adversity, there are two ways of dealing with it: we can either cope with difficult situations as they arise, or we can manage them. There are many things you can do to manage adversity in the workplace including:

Be open-minded
When we approach challenges with an open mind, we embrace the idea that diversity is something to be learned from. Open-minded people see opportunities within adversity and so gain knowledge, perspective and skills that can be used in the future. Conversely, having a closed mindset means we are blinded to the opportunity in adversity and thus approach it with hesitation.

Being determined to overcome something is an attitude that will help to keep you going when the going gets tough. If you are determined to confront and overcome a particular challenge, you will find you have inner reserves that enable you to deal with it.

Creating goals
Setting goals is a good strategy for overcoming diversity. Often when we are faced with a challenge, it can seem overwhelming – cleaning my house for example is enough to make me quit before I’ve started! However, if you can break the challenge down and identify the problems, you are then able to set small, interim goals that will help you overcome the adversity you are facing, one step at a time.

Build a support network
Don’t isolate yourself when faced with a challenge. Instead, surround yourself with support. This will usually be in the form of others who can offer you mental and physical support, but it could also include the provision of the resources needed to deal with the issue in question. Having support will help you navigate adversity successfully.

Adapt and adjust
Adversity is not predictable but learning how to change course and adapt to challenges will ultimately make you more resilient. Together, flexibility and resilience will help you to overcome adversity. Indeed, the events of the last couple of years have proved this; businesses that adapted and changed course when faced with unprecedented adversity overcame their challenges and survived.

Those who learn to manage adversity, rather than cope with it, will find their stress levels are greatly reduced because they are in control of the way they respond to negative events. Such individuals accept that negative events happen but commit to doing something positive to alter their reaction to the stressor. When appropriate, they also take positive steps to prevent the stressor from recurring. And, finally, they meet adversity head-on, perceiving it as a challenge rather than a problem.