Change is very stressful for many. Here are some practical tips on coping with and embracing change.
Last week I wrote about the changes happening in my life and the need for people to think positively, especially when there are changes happening in our personal or work lives that have an impact on our wellbeing.
I am still coming to terms with having a different biological father and a whole collection of new brothers and sisters I didn’t know. I am pleased I am happy about my new circumstances. But not all changes are agreeable – especially changes imposed at work.
Many people think they can’t cope when there is a major change in their life – at work or in their personal lives. They get upset, angry, confused and frustrated, but sooner or later most people eventually start to adapt to whatever the change is. But we can speed the process of acceptance along, and this is good to know of ourselves and our teams. How?
CHANGE OUR SCRIPTS – our thinking patterns!
If we view change with “positive scripts” we can embrace it rather than fight it. That way we stay in control rather than being a victim of change.
I can’t cope with all these changes.
We’ve always done it this way – we should be allowed to keep doing it this way.
My staff will react badly.
This is a nightmare – I can’t handle it.
Change Negative Scripts to Positive Scripts
This is a turning point in my life. This is an opportunity.
I don’t want to be caught in a rut while others move on.
It might be annoying and disruptive but we will all cope and I will lead the way.
It’s good for me to adapt to change and learn new ways of doing things.
CHANGE WITHOUT ANXIETY
What do people feel anxious about in relation to changes?
- Job insecurity – uncertainty about what job you will be doing in the future or even whether there will be a job.
- The fact that so many industries are changing so quickly.
- Overload about requirement to learn new skills
- Working with someone or a team they do not feel comfortable about
- Increased expectations and hours – a company might be expecting much more out of people than they used to.
Here are three ways you and your team can learn to experience change without anxiety.
1 Get things back into perspective
Recalibrate your feelings, by comparing to really bad things that might happen in life or have happened that you have managed to cope with. Coping with change needs all your energy – so don’t waste energy by getting too upset, angry or anxious. Get things back into perspective so you and your team can focus on the second point.
2. Take control of the situation
Taking control of the situation often means talking to someone – a colleague, a client, your manager, or your mentor, to express your concerns and ask for help. But what can you do when you can’t take control of the situation? Focus your energy on what you can control, and do not focus on what you cannot control. It’s a waste of time. Use positive scripts – tell yourself to “ Focus on what you can control. Do not focus on what you cannot control”.
A lot of change is happening to the workplace. We’re best off accepting it – not trying to fight it or control it. But we should try to influence, or focus, on what we can control… how our team implements the change for example.
3. Learn to tolerate uncertainty
We may as well accept that uncertainty is a permanent feature of today’s workplace. Some people have a naturally high level of tolerance for uncertainty. These people are comfortable with uncertainty. It doesn’t bother them. If things or situations are unclear, that’s OK. Others though, have a low tolerance for uncertainty. If things are unclear or uncertain, if the future and their role in the future is not clearly spelt out, they are uncomfortable and stressed. They need to know exactly what is going on or they get anxious.
One way to help tolerate uncertainty is find someone who copes well with change, someone you work with or who is close to you that your respect. Observe them ay work – with staff, clients or colleagues, see how they operate in meetings and on the phone. Let them be your role model. Picture yourself reacting and behaving like them when facing uncertainty. Start to notice the changes in how you are coping with uncertainty… how open you are being to change. You will feel less anxious and others in your team will report that your behaviour is much more positive.
With change all around us – you have a choice between responding negatively, or positively and productively. A lot of it is all in the mind. We all need to learn to cope with change without anxiety or at the very least having the skill to minimize the impact of the anxiety.
By Eve Ash, psychologist and Managing Director, Seven Dimensions, and co-author of Rewrite Your Life! and co-producer with Peter Quarry of Change without Anxiety (Teamwork Essentials series) www.7dimensions.com.au
To read more Eve Ash blogs, click here.