Informative Essay: Combating Demoralization through Resiliency


The purpose of this essay is to provide ways for NCOs to develop resiliency within their squad; by combating demoralization through resilience, hunting the good stuff, avoiding thinking traps, putting things into perspective, and detecting icebergs.  Demoralization limits the amount of motivation, imagination, and problem-solving skills utilized by a squad, causing the squad to lose mission capability by lowering mission readiness.  Demoralization is a disease that can spread from one soldier to another until the entire squad loses its morale, so NCOs must ensure their squad has the mental tools available to ensure they can combat demoralization when it tries to take hold.  

Firstly, NCOs can avoid demoralization by having their soldiers annotate the positive things that the soldiers completed during their training or daily lives.  This tactic, called “hunting the good stuff,” improves soldier morale by forcing them to annotate the good things that happened during their day.  Soldiers will always do challenging tasks, and if they do not think about the good things that happened during that task or the goodness that came out of that task, they will fall to demoralization.  NCOs should build a resilient squad by having them hunt the good stuff, whether in an AAR comment or a side meeting after the mission is complete.  

The second way NCOs can improve soldier morale is by teaching them to avoid thinking traps.  The two main types of thinking tap that soldiers often fall into are all or nothing thinking and exaggeration thinking.  These thinking traps cause soldiers to doubt themselves, their abilities, and their purpose value to the squad and the Army.  

An example of the former is “if a situation is less than perfect, you consider it a total failure.” (Breazeale, 2011).  NCOs can combat this way of thinking by ensuring soldiers understand that striving for perfection makes a good soldier, and soldiers can never achieve true perfection.  NCOs must enforce that the individual is already a good soldier if they are actively striving for perfection.  

An example of the latter would be when a soldier makes the proverbial “mountain out of a molehill.” NCOs can combat this by ensuring soldiers understand that they would never receive a task that the NCOs think they could not complete proficiently.  Likewise, NCOs can reinforce this by never giving soldiers a task the NCOs believe they could not complete.   

The third way NCOs can combat squad demoralization is by having their squad put things into perspective.  Often NCOs will say, “It could always be worse,” or as Regina Brett states, “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.” (Brett, 2015) However, this is not the proper way for NCOs to put things into perspective for their squad.  

Instead, NCOs should inspire their squad to visualize how the squad impacts the mission.  NCOs can quickly reinforce this thought throughout any mission or training event by reinforcing that what the soldiers are doing is necessary to complete the mission or mission readiness.  This reinforcement will build resiliency in the squad by allowing the squad to truly put their task and purpose into perspective and motivate them to complete the task without becoming demoralized.  

The final way to combat demoralization is to detect icebergs.  “Detect icebergs is used to identify core beliefs and core values that fuel what we say to ourselves in the heat of the moment and, at times, lead to emotions and reactions that are out of proportion.” (MRT Version 3.1, 2014) Icebergs can and do tear apart by putting team members against themselves and causing individuals to lose focus on the mission. 

NCOs should ensure their squad feels comfortable coming to their leadership with any objectionable issues that soldiers have with their tasks or their squad members either during or after an event.  By doing this, NCOs ensure that their squad members have an outlet to share their issues with someone who can offer guidance to help solve or alleviate those issues.   

However, this does not mean that soldiers should vent to their leaders or that the NCO is a shoulder to cry on; it means that they can have a guiding hand to assist them.  By coming to their leadership instead of having an outburst of emotion, the soldier respects the leader’s advice and opinions on their issues.  NCOs should maintain a professional working relationship with their squad while still bringing objectionable pertinent matters.  A resilient squad is a squad that feels confident that they can handle their tasks and that their leadership will assist them with issues that they are not comfortable handling. 

In conclusion, through resiliency training such as hunting the good stuff, avoiding thinking traps, putting things into perspective, and detecting icebergs, NCOs will significantly reduce or even prevent demoralization within their squad. 
 

References: 

Breazeale, R. (2011, July 07). Avoid Thinking Traps. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-the-face-adversity/201107/avoid-thinking-traps 

Brett, R. (2015, March 29). If we all threw our problems in a pile, we'd grab ours  back. Retrieved January 18, 2021, from  https://www.reginabrett.com/ecards/2015/3/29/if-we-all-threw-our-problems-in-a-pile-wed-grab-ours-back-52z87 

MRT Version 3.1, M. (2014). Detect Icebergs. In Comprehensive Soldier and  Family Fitness: Building Resilience and Enhancing Performance (Version 3.1  ed., p. 64). Philadelphia, PN: The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. 

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