Navigating Change & Conflict

Building Positive Responses to Change

by Tony DiLeonardi

It's the start of a new year and may be a time for changes to your business.  Some changes are well received and viewed positively.  Other changes are viewed negatively and not received as well.
American inventor Charles Kettering once said "The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress."  As the insight of someone with over 300 patents, observing Mr. Kettering's  advice may provide us, as well as our clients with productive ways to deal with responses to change. 
Below are four approaches from our "Embracing Change" workshop that you may find helpful personally when dealing with change.  They are also tactics you can share with your clients when facing change:

Vent:  Emotions don't disappear and it's healthy to vent. Help them identify techniques to express their frustrations.  Just be sure the venting period doesn't last too long.

Normalize emotions:  Ask clients to look at how others may feel in the same situation. Based on these observations, have them assess whether their own responses are normal or overreactions to a situation.

Expand the "what if": Instead of fixating on just asking the "what if" questions associated with change, turn it into a productive exercise.  The secret is to have clients take the "what if" questions all the way until they come up with plans to deal with the feared outcomes of change rather than be paralyzed by them.

Get beneath the anger to the real feelings:  At best, anger can be distracting.  By getting to the REAL emotion, clients may be more effective in dealing with the feelings and focusing on productive responses.

Brainstorm opportunities:  Rather than focusing on the challenges posed by the change they are facing, find areas for opportunity.

Create perspective:  Discuss ways to put change into perspective such as distracting activities or taking a time-out.

Build confidence:  Help them discover meaning and purpose during times of change by learning to focus on their own identity.  This exercise can help them to see the forest for the trees and put problems into perspective.

Establish a plan:  In line with the old proverb "He who fails to plan, plans to fail," successful individuals operate according to a plan.  This step is always important, but can be critical during times of change.

Recharge:  Effectively navigating change requires energy.  Help clients find specific ways to recharge themselves through hobbies, music or other activities they may find energizing.