Have you ever noticed that some people seem to be more naturally resilient than others? If you’ve known someone a long time you will have formed a view about how well they cope when things get tough. Research has demonstrated that there are two dominant personality characteristics which determine how resilient people are.

  • Emotionality. People vary in how emotionally stable they are. Emotionally unstable people feel things very deeply, which can be a lifelong challenge for them. They get ill more often and tend to bring higher rates of stress to themselves and colleagues. High emotionality means less resilience (eg Campbell-Sills et al, 2006)
  • Conscientiousness. Highly conscientious people are more resilient (eg Fayombo, 2010). Conscientiousness is the tendency to be hardworking and persistent. People with this characteristic will often try harder when things get tough, rather than giving up. Lower levels of conscientiousness indicate the opposite.

People can learn skills to increase their resilience, such as mindfulness, but I choose to hire people who have a head start in this respect.

To find out how to assess for these characteristics, click here.

Campbell-Sills, L., Cohan, S. L., & Stein, M. B. (2006). Relationship of resilience to personality, coping, and psychiatric symptoms in young adults. Behaviour research and therapy, 44(4), 585-599.

Fayombo, G. (2010). The relationship between personality traits and psychological resilience among the Caribbean adolescents.