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IC Personal Competency 7: Resilience

Just as it is important to develop coping-mechanisms in order to deal with stress and uncertainty, fostering the ability to cope with crises and difficulties is equally important. In large international partnerships, it is virtually inevitable that at some point during the collaborative process, things will not go to plan. Setbacks occur, and there are bad days to accompany the good ones. It is of critical importance, therefore, to be able to bounce back and recover from such setbacks and not to be defeated. While setbacks will occur in non-international work as well, problems can be exacerbated by cultural differences or misunderstandings. They may seem hard to handle and overcome, particularly when people are based overseas and temporarily removed from their normal social networks (such as one’s immediate family). A healthy amount of self-confidence and ‘thick-skinned’ nature vis-à-vis criticism and negative feedback can also prove vital for overcoming hard times.
 
 Case Study Example: Resilience for a crisis  
 
There were lots of ups and downs throughout the eChina-UK Programme, and resilience was an essential quality for people to have. The following quotation illustrates its importance:
 Brit 17: 
 
Mid-way through Phase 1 of the eChina-UK Programme, one of the projects was not making as much progress as expected, and face-to-face discussions had not resolved the issue. In a meeting with the Ministry of Education about another matter, a senior official asked how the project was progressing. We were fairly vague, but admitted there were some difficulties that were hampering progress. Nothing more was said, but by the time we arrived back at the partner university, the Chinese project director was literally scarlet with rage at us. He shouted at us, rebuked us and criticised us, because the senior official at the Ministry had telephoned him saying that we had reported that the project had not been making satisfactory progress. We went through a very uncomfortable period of 24 hours, and wondered at first whether the collaboration had been irrevocably damaged. However, within a few days both the Chinese project director and ourselves were all able to bounce back and were able to find ways of addressing the problems that had concerned us. 
 
 
cift_arrow.gif Tip: Reflect on your attitudes towards setbacks. What helps or hinders you in bouncing back?