Dealing with Change in the Workplace

When I was asked to contribute to Co. Magazine my first reaction was, “Yes! … YIKES!” How do I choose what write about? The smart business person is targeted by so many competent sources of information including self-help publications, workshops and training seminars, mentors and academic courses. What could I say that might be helpful? The answer came in the form of another question. What would I talk about with someone in my office?

The smart business person has knowledge, instincts, and experiences that have helped them survive. They have used coping techniques that have worked for them in the past to deal with the changes and the consistencies of their business and personal lives. My job is to help people decide how they want to handle the “stuff” going on in their lives when those familiar coping techniques are not working so well or have developed undesirable side effects. This may involve helping them make a shift of perspective, exploring and developing brand new ways of coping, and validating, reconfirming, or reminding someone of the knowledge they already own.

The goal is to be able to understand and deal (or cope) with reactions to change whether they are personal, specific or global, in ways that allow adaptive choice. Change can challenge a person’s sense of security and safety, trust in their own abilities, beliefs, and control, as well as the challenging established working relationships with others. The dictionary defines “change” as either a verb or a noun describing transformation, modification, alteration, conversion, substitution, replacing, and the effect of becoming different from the previous way of being.

Stress is one of the primary reactions, or consequences because change can take away the ability to predict and predicting is valuable to humans as a survival tool (more on this in future posts). This can be scary and disruptive, whether someone chooses to take action to change or if change happens by involuntary means. Another truth about change is that change in one area of life has an effect on the other areas of life. It is like a chain reaction where one change leads to another and then another. Each change can add to the stress.

The smart business person knows all of this but can get caught up in focusing on the consequences of the initial change issue.  They may be unaware of the natural and logical impact on other areas of life, as well as how to go about figuring out how they would like to cope with it all. Being a counselor, I believe one of the best coping techniques anyone can use is talking. Practice putting your feelings, reactions and perceptions into words. Processing ideas and problem solving options require using words, whether internally and private such as meditation or spirituality or with the use of written or spoken communication with someone else. Sorting through the options and alternatives that may be available sometimes requires help.

So what can a person do? First of all – stop and take a few deep breaths to get oxygen to the brain. Take a step back, emotionally, so you can see the BIG picture. Then make lists:

 – Where can you seek consultation when needed?

 – What are the initial change and the subsequent chain reactions?

 – What about the change is within your control and what is not within your control, remembering that sometimes the only thing that you have power and control over may be what you say to yourself about the change event.

 – What are the pros and cons of the change AND a third list of potential “deal-killers”. This will involve awareness and acknowledgement of your values.

 – What are options for alternative reactions and their consequences?

Then make the best decision given the information you have gathered and know that many decisions are not set in stone and can be altered as a result of additional information. Finally recognize that you are not alone and can talk to someone.

Please let me know if this was helpful or if you have comments or suggestions by emailing me at

May you be Safe.
May you be Happy.
May you be Healthy.
May you Live With Ease.

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Boerne, TX 78006

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