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Four ways to conquer resistance to change

Cedric Christie change

Workplace change is never easy. It’s a tiring, confusing and frustrating business at best and a frightening and confidence-sapping journey at worst. But, instead of fighting against change, you can work at turning the experience into a positive and fruitful one, write Kandi Wiens and Darin Rowell for Harvard Business Review.

The two executive business coaches have studied the processes and effects of organisational change on both leaders and employees and conclude that plain resistance in any form is by far the most damaging response.

“It’s not good for you, your career, or your organisation. Improving your adaptability, a critical emotional intelligence competency is key to breaking this cycle,” they write.

Instead of throwing your eyes to the sky and always expecting the worst, the more useful and empowering path is to accept the need for change, then take some action towards it.


Here is a four-part plan the authors have devised to inject some emotional understanding into the mix, so that you no longer see change as a threat:

1) Ask yourself why you are resisting. Is there an underlying reason why the idea of change is making you nervous? Are you missing any skills that will be required for the future? If so, take steps to fill in the gaps with training so you are better prepared.

Will new policies mean you have less direct control of your daily work? Getting more involved with the change process – even if you don’t see eye-to-eye with its instigators – could alter your perception.

2) Identify the chief emotion that change is stirring in you. No two individuals will tell themselves exactly the same story about what’s happening. If you are coming from a place of fear, whose truth are you believing? Perhaps you are feeling scared because you are convinced that all your power is being taken away and the change is being “done to you”.

By recognising your emotion, then separating it from what is actually happening, you can reclaim that power and focus on potential new roles in fresh initiatives.

3) Recognise when your attitude is promoting negativity. The way you feel affects how you act – this not only impacts on you, but also on those around you. Become more aware of your own behaviour and the signals you’re sending out. Are you on a downward spiral of habitual gloom and scepticism that colours your reaction to any notion of change?

4) Make a point of searching for the positive in the situation. Instead of concentrating on all the bad things that could happen, make yourself examine how new opportunities might improve the organisation and your role in it.

This can propel you from a defensive position to a frontline role. One of the authors’ clients described his shift from being “a problem solver” to an “opportunity finder”.

Every emotional response has its own energy. Channelling yours into a place where you see workplace change as potentially beneficial, even when you don’t initially agree with it, can be far more rewarding than dogged negativity.

Source Article: How To Embrace Change Using Emotional Intelligence
Author(s): Kandi Wiens and Darin Rowell