How to reduce emotional turmoil during change

Many change efforts fail because people and their emotions are not factored into the equation. Change tends to create or increase anxiety, negativity, and emotional overload. Yet, it can also sharpens focus and purpose. Finding ways to enhance resilience will help reduce emotional burnout.  

Today, we are going to examine some of the most common negative psychological and emotional attitudes toward change that bring resistance and emotional turmoil. We will also explore what you can do to help people reduce emotional reactivity and turn it into energy for change.

1. Fear of the unknown.

If you can convey the unknown as an interesting challenge, instead of a scary, confusing situation, fear of the unknown will diminish considerably. Education and constant clear two way communication with everyone about the changes taking place will go a long way to bring reassurance and deter scary rumors.

2. Low tolerance for change.

Some personality types have less tolerance for change than others. Past difficult experiences with change can also contribute to low tolerance for it. When people have low tolerance for change, the sooner they know about the proposed change, the easier it will be to get used to the idea. Asking for stories about past successful experiences with change can be a reminder of the strengths they have.

3. Dislike of management or other change agent.

It is impossible to be liked by everyone. It is helpful if the person who presents the change plan is liked by the majority of the group. If that is not possible, be ready to have a very compelling “message” that can weight more than the dislike of the “messenger.”

4. Lack of trust.

Trust takes time to develop. A way to develop trust is to create a few easy to implement steps to launch the change effort. The ensuing success will increase the trust level and help people believe it is possible to implement the change. If changes are a result of a merger, it is important to provide opportunities for personal interactions that can help people get to know each other. This will facilitate the development of trust.

5. Need for security.

When there is change, many people feel insecure and fear their jobs might be in jeopardy. Give realistic reassurance both in terms of job security and access to help as needed. Yet, don't lie! If there are going to be layouts, it's better to admit to it

6. Desire for status quo.

Anything that is repeated often enough becomes a habit. Habits make our life easier. No wonder people prefer things to stay the same! To help, the secret is to remind people that if they repeat the new behaviors often enough and long enough, it will become the new norm, or new habit. It will then be easy.

7. Frustration.

Anything new we attempt requires dealing with feeling of inadequacy as we slowly become proficient. This brings frustration and tempers flare easily. Recognizing the frustrations, and not “punishing” the people for feeling frustrated is needed. It is also important to encourage the sharing of small gains. We tend to see what we focus on. If our focus is on the frustrations, they will increase. If leaders focus in the daily gains, even if they are small, and acknowledge the efforts, it will encourage perseverance and bring more success.

8. Stress.

Change brings stress, since people are usually asked to handle the same amount of work under different conditions. Some ways to help diffuse stress are: more frequent breaks; appreciation; judicious use of humor; soft calming background music; less interruptions; patience with repeated questions and mistakes; opportunities for sharing and helping; and reminders of what it will look like after they have fully incorporated the changes.

4 Positive emotions help reduce negativity

Negativity can work as a virus “infecting” everybody, and sabotaging change. The best antidote to negativity are four positive emotions that have been shown to increase energy and productivity, decrease stress, and promote connection and well-being in the workplace. These are:

  • Compassion
  • Empathy
  • Forgiveness
  • Appreciation

Organizations that encourage a culture of positivity, flourish. Cultivating positive emotions is especially important during times of change. If you want to change the boundaries of your mind and widen the possibilities of what you can do and experience, positivity is the way to go.

Remember, positivity can calm negativity like a reset button. Positive words and appreciation have power! Try it out! Go among your people today and show heartfelt and specific appreciation. Listen with compassion and empathy, and be ready to forgive mistakes and move on. You will feel better, and those around you will feel more connected, energized, and productive

What do you think?

Have you notice any of the above negative emotions in your organization? Which are more common? In which specific way can you bring more positivity into your workplace? Share your comments with us. 

If you want to know more about people, emotions, and change, ask for my FREE REPORT: The human factor in change equation.