How do you cope with change?
Change is a constant In Buddhism it is said that all is changeable, nothing is constant', although as human beings many people seek stability and certainty in their lives. While some personality types thrive on change and seek it out whether it is a different job every year or so, or a different route to work every day they hate doing the same thing again and again. However, many people find change a challenge even if it is a change that they have initiated themselves, e.g.: a new job or house move, marriage, etc. Just think about all the changes you have been through in your life:
- Birth being a pretty big first step!
- Nursery, primary, secondary schools and maybe further education.
- Your first job (maybe a Saturday or holiday job); your first proper job, changes in organisations, roles.
- Changes in technology computers, mobile phones, email yes, I have been around long enough to remember offices without computers!
- Moving house, maybe country; marriage, children, maybe divorce; illnesses, getting older, death of loved ones.
The list goes on and on
. we are constantly facing changes. Sometimes the changes are voluntary, a new job, a promotion, marriage, children, but even these can involve a lot of adjustment. And what if they are involuntary, such as redundancy, ill health, organisational changes which are outside our control.
What positive changes have you gone through in your life? When has change been unwelcomed or unexpected? What changes have you initiated?
Dealing with uncertainty change also has the habit of being unreliable or unpredictable and we often have to live with the uncertainty for a long period of time. For example, a friend waited 18 months for the restructuring of her department knowing that it might well bring about the demise of her own job which it did in the end. And none of us know what 2009 will bring for each other. For some perhaps nothing much will change, for others the changes could be huge. So how can we cope and handle this uncertainty?
- Deal with your worse fears talk through these with someone you trust and work out how you would deal with them, realise that you will be able to cope even in the worse case scenario.
- Talk to someone this might be a trusted friend, colleague, manager, coach or counsellor.
- Focus on a positive outcome it might be that the change will be for the best or that your worse case scenario will never happen, so focus on creating a positive outcome for yourself whatever the change may be.
- Minimise other pressures on yourself in times of uncertainty and change it is important that you do not overload yourself with other pressures that can be avoided.
- Support yourself think of activities you can do that will support you physically, mentally and emotionally. Sometimes a bit of pampering or indulgence (this can simply be a candle lit bath if you can't stretch to a spa treatment) can help you to cope with the pressures you are experiencing.
- Avoid negative coping mechanisms watch out for over drinking, over eating, over spending or other reckless behaviour. These might provide short term relief but are likely to add to your problems in the long term.
What do you already do to cope with uncertainty? What else can you do?
Understanding the psychological cycle we go through - Elizabeth Kubler Ross studied people's reactions to bereavement and loss. She found that in many cases people go through a similar cycle of emotions in response to loss, although they often take different amounts of time to go through each stage. Since the publication of her work, research has been carried out into how people react to change at work and it has been found that individuals go through a very similar cycle of emotions and reactions. Here are the key stages in the cycle:
- Immobilisation people can usually assimilate slow, evolutionary change. It is when change happens suddenly, maybe unexpectedly or the pace of change is fast, that people can become overwhelmed by it and even immobilised. We might continue to operate, almost on automatic pilot, while in a state of shock.
- Minimisation this can be seen as total denial of the change taking place or a minimisation of the effects on oneself or others.
- Depression This is where people feel helpless in the face of change, they become de-motivated and negative about any attempts to deal with or cope with the changes. Although this is an inevitable stage in the process, it is important that people receive appropriate support so that they do not stay in this stage for too long as it is very distressing for the individual concerned and those around them.
- Acceptance of reality, letting go eventually people come to terms with the reality of the change and realise it is going to happen or accept that the new changed state is for real. This can also involve letting go' of some of the thoughts, feelings or even behaviours associated with life before the changes took place.
- Testing Although people may have moved onto a place of accepting the changes they might not have worked out how to live with them. This stage is about testing out possibilities and thinking about how to make things work within the new circumstances. This usually involves more energy, motivation and positivity.
- Search for meaning Having gone through the testing stage and found ways of making the most out of the new circumstances, individuals can start to see the benefits associated with the change and even identify unexpected benefits.
- Internalisation at this stage the new circumstance starts to become natural, individuals start to think, feel and behave in a natural way as is appropriate to the new situation.
If you are going through a major change right now, where are you on this cycle? Think about past changes: have you got stuck at a particular part of the cycle?
How can you help others cope with change? You might be in the situation of supporting people at work who are going through changes or friends who are facing redundancy or other challenges. Whatever the change they face think about the following points when supporting them:
- Match and pace them if they are feeling depressed, anxious or even excited go to where they are and support them. There is nothing worse when you are feeling very down or emotional to have someone either try and cheer you up or come in with lots of logical thinking about benefits of the change, etc. You might need to let them be emotional for a time before they are ready to move on.
- Step into their shoes try to understand it from their perspective, which might be very different from yours.
- Listen to their concerns Just listening to them can assist them in working through their concerns and fears, even if they seem irrational (see November 2008 edition of Inspire for more on listening). Help them to see how they would be able to handle or take action to avoid their worse fears occurring.
- Eventually encourage them to see the benefits of the change this might even be the benefits of redundancy in these troubled times for some people it can be a life changing event. I followed my dream and set up my business during the recession in 1991 after being made redundant.
- Be there for them for some people it will take a long time to either come to terms with the change and/or find a way forward having friends or colleagues who are prepared to support you in the long term is a huge benefit.
Are you facing changes at the moment?
- Changes in personnel in your team or creating a new team
- Supporting others through change
- Redundancy, downturn in your business sales
- Or even increased workload, leading to overload
whatever the issues you face call Melanie on 01865 377334 or to email, click here to arrange a time to speak in confidence. For more information about Grovelands visit our website by clicking here.