If the only type of change you can handle jingles in your pockets, it’s time to make some adjustments. After all, change is a constant, and learning how to lean into it can save you some aggravation and wasted time. Being resistant to big and little modifications in your life can mean missing out on amazing opportunities, learning new things, and discovering new interests. Being receptive to change can mean great things for your health, career and personal life.
Why Change Can Be Hard
Leadership development company Primeast shares four main reasons people are resistant to change in the workplace.
- Misunderstanding and lack of trust
- Different evaluations
- Low tolerance for trying something different
Their article also delves into two types of change an employee might encounter at work: Operational and Social.
Operational deals with what an employee does and how they do it. Operational change might come in the form of new technology that an employee needs to learn.
Social deals with whom, and how, an employee interacts on the job. If there’s a new hierarchy put in place or a shake-up among coworkers, it affects the social aspect of life at work.
Social change is tied more to an emotional reaction, but operational change can certainly also evoke anxiety. In fact, any type of change welcomed or not, can cause stress, especially if it feels out of your control.
Harvard Business Review notes that often the initial reaction to change is pulling back, rather than pushing forward. Business leaders can play a huge role in preparing employees for change, guiding them through it and fostering solid coping skills.
- Give positive true stories of other people who moved beyond the status quo
- Create a safe space to talk, share emotions and ask questions
- Go through “What if” scenarios
- Set reasonable expectations
- Champion cross-team connections and encourage networking to gain new perspectives
In business, being adaptive is critical to growth and innovation! Creating a culture where employees feel like they can help control and direct change is how successful companies thrive. We’ve all heard of the saying, “be the change;” but unless you’re willing to get cozy with a little upheaval in your life, you’ll continue to “be the norm.” This might sound very appealing, but in actuality, you’re shortchanging your abilities to grow and evolve. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you’re already on the right track when it comes to working through those inevitable disruptions life throws at all of us. Staying flexible and resilient are great tools to help cope with change too.
Change Your Ways
Perspective is a powerful lens. When I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 13 years ago, change was very unwelcomingly thrust upon me. I did not consume a very diverse diet. Gluten-filled foods were my main sustenance. All I could think about was that I wouldn’t be able to eat bread and cereal and baked goods anymore.
My neighbor and her daughter came over shortly after my diagnosis, both had lived with Celiac for many years already, with a hand-written list titled “WHAT YOU CAN STILL EAT.” It included gluten-free bread and bakery brands they enjoyed; cereals that were naturally gluten-free; and favorite snacks like popcorn and chips. Their advice was to concentrate on what can stay the same, instead of everything I was going to miss.
Real Simple published 11 coping strategies to try as you trudge through any kind of change. Focusing on the positive aspects is one of them. Others include:
- Accept help
- Control what you can
- Be patient
- Connect with others
It turns out that having to give up gluten led me to a renaissance of healthier living! I eat all sorts of vegetables, fruits, and other grains now. I found new favorites (cauliflower pizza crust – YES!) and learned how to make my old favorites with other ingredients (quinoa, tapioca, and cassava flours are great). Things I had turned my nose up at before (avocado, brussels sprouts, beets, and mushrooms, to name a few) have become standards in my diet because I was forced to make huge alterations and decided to make the most of it.
We’ve all heard that “opportunity knocks,” but if you’re too scared/stubborn/rigid to see what’s on the other side of the door, you could be trapped in a cycle of anxiety, regret and growing inflexibility. That sounds horrible! Do yourself a favor and take small steps to set yourself up for future success.
- Answer that door…
- Step outside…
- Lean toward something out of the ordinary…
Before you know it, you’ll not only be more adept at navigating the unknown but who knows, you could even become a change-maker yourself!