Personal resilience is particularly vital for professionals for a number of reasons. They need to be robust to help their clients deal with the emotional problems and challenges they are facing that often result in confrontation, worry and stress. Professionals care about what they do and the quality of their services, so when mistakes are made, they are upset. As we have discussed already, they have to make difficult and complex judgements where there is no ‘right’ answer or absolute or predetermined solution, but only the ‘best answer’ for that particular situation. Even the most proficient professionals cannot always deliver what their clients want, with the result that they get blamed for this ‘failure’. Their clients often demand 24 hour access to them with increasing pressure being placed on their speed of response. They often have a working environment that can be noisy, disruptive and exhausting, with distractions from phone calls, emails, meetings and colleagues, resulting in them being overwhelmed and stressed with no time to think quietly or the energy to do their most difficult and complex work.
They may make mistakes due to having too much to do, being tired, as a result of inattention or being given responsibility for something outside their sphere of knowledge or ability. Because of the importance of their work, such mistakes can have severe repercussions. In addition, they may be blamed for mistakes that are not their fault and/or spend time and energy sorting out a problem that they would not have created in the first place. They can sometimes work in a competitive environment that creates an unwillingness to admit when they do not know the answer, so they fail to ask colleagues for help, leaving them to cope on their own with a resultant loss of perspective when problems arise. In the most serious situation, they can face the pressure of dealing with a formal complaint or claim against them, and become defensive and hostile to non-professionals attempting to make judgements on the quality of their service provision.
This may seem a long list and it is. Professional practice is not easy and I feel that too little emphasis is placed on developing ways of coping with it. A lot of attention is paid to intellectual ability and skill development, but a lot less (if any) goes into the emotional side.