WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – With all the stressors that exist in people’s lives today, ways to manage built-up emotions and stress are needed in order to successfully go about day-to-day activities.
One way individuals can better manage their days is to learn basic resilience skills that can help them cope when situations arise that take away from their focus.
“I call them ‘stress gremlins’,” said Trisha Edmond, a logistics management specialist with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Sensors Program Office. “Especially today, in our professional environments, we have so much on our plates – sometimes we need help.”
Edmond is one of Wright-Patt’s lead master resilience trainers and also applies the skills to her personal life.
She believes that the skills help maintain respect and professionalism in various adverse situations and to utilize them would greatly benefit work environments with employees of diverse backgrounds, varying experiences, beliefs and cultures.
The skills are ordinary and can be perceived as repetitive, but just as brushing and flossing teeth are ordinary and mundane for some, it needs to be done every day in order to have a strong set of healthy teeth—the skills are “tools” that are designed to help, Edmond explained.
Having previously worked with the Army, Edmond experienced a difficult time adjusting in her initial transition to Wright-Patt. Being accustomed to the Army culture, she found it hard to fit in and Air Force processes and methodologies were completely alien to her.
Once she learned the concept of “we are all Airmen” who are supposed to help each other and be each other’s Wingmen, she believed it whole-heartedly.
That’s when she decided to become an MRT.
“MRTs have the responsibility to ensure a shared level of understanding is shared among members of a diverse workforce that bridges the gap between aforementioned differences by effectively teaching resilience skills,” stated Edmond.
Becoming an MRT gave Edmond more than what she anticipated. She found that the very same skills she would be teaching others, when applied to her own life has positively impacted how she operates throughout the day.
Although teaching the skills comes second-nature to her, sometimes she must be mindful to apply them.
In a previous situation, one of her peers shared exciting news about an award she was nominated for. Edmond was not new to this type of excitement since she had a similar experience in the past. Instead of responding to let her peer know this, Edmond applied the “Good Listening” and “Active Constructive Response” skills. She allowed her peer to finish the story, then asked questions to engage her in more conversation. Edmond’s response celebrated her peer’s accomplishment.
“It wasn’t about me,” she said. “If I would have interrupted and told her that I had been nominated for a similar award once before – she could have taken it as upstaging her. It was more important to make that time ‘her’ moment, not mine.”
Edmond’s response in the situation may have seemed minor to some, but she felt that it has developed a trust with her peer. Since then, the work relationship between the two has strengthened.
“In a work environment, it’s needed that people have others they can trust with not-so-important issues,” she continued. “So that when something very important does comes up, or if they’re in a crisis, they can go to those same people because they trust them – they know they will listen and not be judged.”
Resilience skills are designed for common office situations that can be used at any time and with anyone.
For instance, another skill called “Balance Your Thinking,” requires trying to understand a situation by examining the facts from another perspective and putting yourself in the other person’s shoes to try to see their side so that both parties come to a solution or agreement.
The whole idea is to be mindful of situations and others.
Another area Edmond uses the skills is in her graduate program with her fellow students from various cultures. She now rarely makes assumptions about what the behaviors of students from other countries may mean. The skills help her to not allow cultural barriers hinder open communication.
She firmly believes the skills erase boundaries in most situations and invokes good behavior in people.
After teaching for a few years, still one the greatest rewards came when people, to include her leadership share that they are using the skills and even teaching them to their family members.
“It’s all worth it, it’s helped me – it can definitely help others,” she said.
The resilience skills taught by MRTs fall under the Comprehensive Airmen Fitness program. The Air Force defines CAF as a “holistic approach to develop over-arching Airman fitness and resilience that includes fitness in mental, physical, social and spiritual domains”.
For more information or to schedule a resilience session, contact the Wright-Patt community support coordinator, Mary “Jan” Devitt at (937) 257-6442.