How Do You React to Change?

Joe Weinlick
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You've heard the adage: "The only constant is change." Thanks to technology and a fast-paced working environment, things at the office may shift faster than you like. You do have the power to control how you respond to change, even if transitions at work seem overwhelming.

One key to maintaining a productive outlook amidst changes is to lessen the emotional impact of an unexpected occurrence. You can plan for almost any scenario with metrics, training, efficiency apps and industry expertise. When something surprising occurs, it catches you off-guard, and you might start to doubt your abilities. Then you resort to coping mechanisms that could lead to irrational fears that make it harder to concentrate on the task at hand. You respond to change with emotions, resistance and anger instead of trying to solve what you can modify.

No matter how hard you try, some situations occur that are beyond your control. A client may move to a competitor when the rival company offers a better deal. Even though you deliver outstanding customer service, a customer might yell at you because he's stressed about his children. Your best team member could decide to move away if her husband gets a better job.

Recognize that a lack of control does not cause you to react emotionally to adjustments at work. In reality, you simply fear the unknown just like every other human being. That's why you resist change, and that's why you may respond to change with emotions rather than rationale at first.

Lessening the emotional impact starts with accepting the concept that change is a condition. You cannot prepare for every new development, nor can you predict the future. Change is inevitable. When you respond to change with rational thinking, it builds your character and sharpens your problem-solving skills.

Now that you've got that in the open, ask yourself what you can do, and focus on the practicalities of the unexpected occurrence rather than the emotional facets. With the example of your best team member leaving, you should immediately start coming up with people with similar personalities, work ethic and abilities who could replace her. Ask the employee how much time you have to find a replacement. Determine who, if anyone, she recommends as a successor.

All of these actions involve how you respond to change. Now you have a productive outlook to guide you through the transition instead of an emotional outburst that hinders your efficiency. The sooner you ask the one important question, the sooner you start solving problems. Once you practice this method, you find yourself going into productivity mode faster and easier rather than taking several hours to fume about how you don't like change.

When you respond to change in a positive way, it effects everyone around you. You boss may notice, your co-workers see that you don't panic, and then you set yourself up for a promotion. Learn how to turn emotional reactions into productive ones, and watch opportunities appear.

Photo courtesy of Conal Gallagher at


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  • Karl H.
    Karl H.

    Embrace it!

  • Cheryl H.
    Cheryl H.

    Assess risk and implement quality control assurance measures to ensure lean, effective and efficient results.

  • Alan L.
    Alan L.

    It depends upon the reason for change and the expected impact to the firm.

  • Thomas M.
    Thomas M.

    There is nothing that can accelerate a business more dramatically than a change that is often unseen or unconventional.

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