Newsletter March 2015

There are those who thrive on it. Those who resist it. Those who are flexible. And those who ponder it.

In today’s fast moving society of ever changing technology, ideas, and innovations, it’s inevitable that you will experience significant changes at your work place.

Have you ever noticed that when there is a change at work, no matter how big or small, some people love the change and some people dig in their heels and resist the change?

Many of us fall somewhere in the middle, neither thriving on change nor resisting it at all costs.

According to the Ottawa Business Journal article, How Change Affects Teams, by Ruth Gmehlin, there are four common reactions to change.

1. There are people who thrive on change and like to initiate it just to shake things up a bit. These people are results-oriented and embrace quick decisions.

2. On the opposite spectrum are those who resist change and need time to prepare. They do not want to be rushed into a decision, and find security in sameness.

3. The third group are the optimists who may not initiate the change, but they get on board, show enthusiasm, and are flexible.

4. Lastly, there are those who are concerned with the effects of change and need to carefully weigh the pros and cons, wanting to maintain a high standard of service regardless of the changes around them.

While personality plays a big part in one’s reaction to change, so does personal stress levels. Anyone who has been dealing with a great deal of change, whether at work or at home is more likely to resist any more changes, no matter how seemingly small.

We all need time to adapt to changes and too many changes at once can throw any of us out of whack, regardless of our personal style.

Understanding and appreciating differences in personality as well as differences in stress levels goes a long way to smoothing over ruffled feathers at work when change is introduced.

As you go through change, it’s important to know and appreciate your personal style around change while acknowledging that others may have a different response to change. Rather than be angry about the change, or angry that others are not warming up quickly enough, acknowledge that we all have our own personal style around change. By owning our own style, we can let go of what’s right or wrong and work towards respect and understanding.

Expect change to cause a reaction in yourself and others. People often say, “I don’t know why it’s affected me so much,” or “I don’t know why he or she is so resistant to change.”

If you understand and expect there to be a reaction to change, in yourself and in others, then you are better prepared to deal with it.

If you know that your personal style is to resist change, make a conscious effort to talk yourself through it. The more you resist change, the more rigid you become, and the end result will be more painful. Learning to be flexible takes work, but you can learn to ride out change more easily. We all know that swimming with the current, not against it, is the way to survive in rough waters.

No matter how good the change may be, it almost always causes a loss. When something in your life changes, you lose the old way of being or the old set of circumstances. It is normal to grieve the loss and it’s helpful to acknowledge the loss.

If you are having difficulty adjusting to change, get support. Don’t try to cope alone or keep your feelings to yourself. Change places a demand on us to adjust, and too many demands, no matter how positive, result in stress. Recognize when the demands for change exceed your ability to adjust and seek help when necessary.

And finally, know that all change comes to an end and when the new circumstances are in place, they will become familiar to you. Eventually you will return to a feeling of normality.

Jenny DeReis, MC Psych, CCC