Getting Better at Dealing With Change

Change is a constant in our lives in general, but specifically in our work lives.  Sometimes, the change is something that we can control, but other times, the change is something that we can’t control.  Sometimes, the change is immediately better, sometimes the improvement is delayed, and sometimes it is just change.  But regardless of how soon the change allows for improvement, it is not always easy to adapt to the change.  So, in this blog posting, there will be some tips for making the best at dealing with change, especially the change that you are not controlling!  

Find the Humor In The Situation  

Humor - Dealing With Change

Trying to find a funny moment during an otherwise unfunny situation can be a fantastic way to create the levity needed to see the current problem or change in a new perspective.   It also helps people feel a little better about the situation in the moment.  No wonder with the current situation, anyone on social media is able to see the memes and jokes at an all-time high.  We are not in control of the situation, we know that we are not in control, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t laugh!  Laughter really is the best medicine.  

Humor researcher, Rod A. Martin, who has studied the effects of different types of humor has found that witty banter- aka “affiliative humor” can absolutely lighten the mood and improve the social interaction in the situation.  Never underestimate the power of a properly placed pun.  Just make sure that the joke is respectful and inclusive.  A good rule of thumb is that someone else’s strife is no laughing matter, but your own struggles can be comedic gold!  

Talk About the Problem, Not the Feeling   

I can do it - Dealing With ChangeNow, this does not mean “suck it up and deal with it”, actually it is close to the opposite of that.  One of the most common myths about coping with unwanted change is that we can “work through” our anger, frustrations, uncertainty, etc, by talking about our feelings a lot.  This is not always the case, as repeatedly broadcasting negative emotions hinders our natural adaptation process However, calling out those emotions at the beginning of the disorienting change and putting a name to it is extremely helpful.  An example would be your manager changing because your old manager was promoted.  Stating to yourself “I am afraid for a new manager to come in because —-” is actually quite therapeutic and allows you to identify the cause of the fear.   Instead of being disoriented due to the fear, this allows you to become aware of how the emotion may distort your thinking or disrupt your relationships.   

Once the emotion and the reason for the emotion has been identified, look for practical advice about solutions for what to do next.  For example, if you are afraid of getting a new manager because you do not feel like they would see the effort you put in behind the scenes, seek out some advice on how you can better communicate all that you are doing.  Not only does this allow you to grow through the change, but it also allows you to find a solution to your concern and hopefully allows you to go into the next time period of change with a plan.  With this method, you are actually putting the focus on solving the problem versus putting the focus on the negative emotion.  

Don’t Stress About Stressing Out  

Stress - Dealing With ChangeYour beliefs about stress really do matter.  Kelly McGonigal, a Stanford psychologist argues in The Upside of Your Stressyour reaction to stress has a greater impact on your health and success than the stress itself.  If you believe that stress will make you unproductive, guess what- it will.  Whatever your beliefs in stress are, you will manifest them.  If you believe that stress is trying to carry you over a big obstacle or through a challenging situation, you will become more resilient and even live longer!  

When you find yourself feeling stressed, take a moment to reflect.  What is your stress trying to help you accomplish?  Is it trying to help you excel at an important task like a presentation?  It is helping you endure a period of tough market conditions or a temporary shift in your daily structure? Is it trying to help you empathize with a colleague?  Whatever it is, your stress is talking to you- just make sure that you are listening.  

Focus on Your Values Instead of Your Fears   

Values - Dealing With ChangeRemind yourself what is important to you- family, friends, personal convictions, achievements, music, creative expression, whatever it is- focus on it.  Surprisingly, focusing on your values can actually create a powerful buffer between you and what is troubling you.  

The practice of spending ten minutes writing about a time when a personal value you had positively affected you has been proven to work of people in all situations and ages.  The technique works because reflecting on a personal value helps us rise above the immediate threat while also allowing us to realize that our personal identity can’t be compromised by one challenging situation.   

These four suggested techniques require different skills to pull off (not everyone is a master of puns) – you will probably gravitate more towards some than others and that is ok.   Hopefully implementing your new technique (or combination of) will allow you to navigate through these waters of change that we currently find ourselves in until we establish our new normal.   ​

Do you have your own way of dealing with the challenges that change can bring? Tell us about it in the comment section below!

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