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We have all lived through turbulent times recently. If we needed to be convinced, we now know that change is inevitable and it’s happening all the time. 
Sometimes change can be positive but at other times it can be painful. Often the hardest changes to understand and adjust to are the ones that are unexpected and out of our control like a recession, a pandemic, or a natural disaster, for example. 
Your experience of any type of change can be affected by your reaction and your attitude.. 
Coping with change 
Most of us will either try to escape changes or control them
If your strategy is to escape then you will take deliberate actions to resist change. You might miss training for a new role or process in the workplace or claim you have another pressing meeting so you can’t attend a briefing about planned changes. In more serious cases some people turn to alcohol or drugs to reduce their anxiety about change. 
Alternatively, you might aim to control the situation, which can be more positive and proactive. You manage your feelings, get support, and do whatever you can to be actively involved in the change. 
Generally, most of us will respond with a mixture of both strategies, which is natural. 
The stages of your response to change 
Changing how we think and behave and learning to live with new surroundings, relationships and roles is uncomfortable. Often, we will go through several stages as we accommodate change in our lives. 
Initially we will be surprised and confused by what’s happening and we might become angry or upset. Eventually, because we are practical people, we start to think about how we will respond, and eventually we will accept it and move on. 
Of course, these stages won’t happen neatly, one after another. It will almost certainly feel like a confusing jumble. It’s possible that you could find it difficult to move on from the emotional response or to accept what’s happening. You might even move backwards and forwards through the stages for a while. 
Stage One: Shock 
Big changes like illness, redundancy, or divorce, for example, can affect everything you thought you could rely on in your life. You are sure to feel uncertain about what will happen next. 
However, before you react it’s important to make sure you have accurate and reliable information so that you can move on from this vulnerable position as quickly as possible. If the change involves work, talk to your manager and other people that you trust. If it involves your personal life don’t be afraid to talk to family or friends and to look for reputable support groups. Gossip and rumours are unhelpful and can make the situation worse, so take responsibility for finding out what’s really happening. 
It’s also possible that there are benefits that you might overlook in your initial surprise, so be prepared to look for opportunities as well as threats. For example, if your job is changing you might learn a new skill, meet new people, and receive more recognition. Change might be good for you. 
Stage Two: Emotional response 
When our ‘comfort zone’ is disrupted all our emotions will be on high alert for potential problems. This is tiring and can stir up a lot of unexpected feelings. You might be angry or tearful, for example. Even if you decided to make a change, like accepting a new job, you could still find yourself on an emotional seesaw. 
Try to avoid instant reactions while you’re in this stage because your mind is processing a lot and you might make some poor choices. It’s important to acknowledge how you feel and to talk in confidence to someone you know well to clarify your ideas. You might feel a little overwhelmed from time to time but don’t worry, that’s a natural part of the process. 
Ideally, you will already have some coping skills in place to help you through these choppy waters. 
Stage Three: Acceptance 
Accepting change is like focussing a microscope. Initially the picture is indistinct and difficult to understand, but you will eventually start to see things more clearly. This is the point where you can let go of your discomfort and start to imagine yourself living with the new situation. 
You will need to allow yourself to pass through the other stages, so don’t try to rush to this point. You can, however, ask yourself a lot of relevant and practical questions to help you visualise yourself in a new position. When you reach this stage, you will probably still have a lot of unresolved feelings but don’t try to ignore them or pretend they aren’t real and important. 
Stage Four: Moving ahead 
Everything you have felt and done to this point will still be relevant and useful so make sure you make room for it in your life. Moving on isn’t the same as ‘giving up’. When you reach this stage, you can embrace change and look forward to the future positively. This is a good time to make plans – on your own terms – for how you want to make progress. 
Last words… 
You will move through these stages more easily when you acknowledge how you are feeling, discover the facts, look for positive aspects, and take advantage of your support network. Most importantly, give yourself time to adapt and respond positively. 
Supporting clients through life’s changes is part of the service you receive with Andromeda Business Consulting so please get in touch for an informal discussion. 
Until next time ... 
Tagged as: Change management
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