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Resources | Podcasts | All About You

All About You: How do you handle change?

July 27, 2014

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Motivating employees to work safely is part of the safety professional’s job. But who motivates the motivator? In this monthly column, veteran safety pro and professional speaker Richard Hawk offers his entertaining brand of wisdom to inspire safety pros to perform at their best.

It’s no secret – things change. What exists today is a memory tomorrow. Take a moment to consider how computers, smartphones, airplanes and world events have changed our lives. Change can be wonderful. It can also be frightening and hard to handle.

What exactly does it mean to “handle change”? The concept of change management is a common corporate buzzword, but what does it really mean? More important, what can we do to handle change better?

First off, if you try to manage change the same way you manage a stable, routine situation, you’re going to have real problems. You need to recognize that changes are usually under-managed – even simple ones. Humans tend to be too resistant, too reactive and too closely tied to their old habits to easily accept change.

What makes this situation odd is that everything is constantly changing, whether we like it or not, so you’d think we’d be ready for it. But how we view change and what we do about it is what can make it painful; it’s not the change itself that is causing the problem.

I look forward to change. It has taken me a while to be able to honestly say that. Although some types of changes still make my heart jump a bit, generally I enjoy it. Here are a few tactics I use to make change more pleasant.

Your life today is here because of change

Do you like how things are going in your life right now? If you do, it’s only because of past changes. In other words, without change you wouldn’t be enjoying the “stable parts” of your life right now.

In the future you will probably feel the same way about your situation. What this means is that you should have been glad things changed, even though before they did you may have been upset about it. So, in practical terms, to help you better handle change, I recommend you embrace it. Be glad it’s happening. It’s going to lead to your future life!

Handling difficult changes

No doubt, you are already experienced at handling difficult changes such as a serious illness, losing a job or having a loved one pass away. That doesn’t mean these changes were pleasant, but it does mean there is no need for you to experience strong fear about a new difficult change.

Remembering this helps: You’ve handled it before; you can handle it again.

Another helpful tactic for handling difficult changes is to create consistency in the rest of your life as much as possible.

That’s why it’s best that you minimize other variables in your life as you prepare for a big change. For example, if you’re going to be changing jobs soon, it may be best not to attempt to change personal habits at the same time.

Join the dance!

One of my favorite quotes about handling change is from British philosopher Alan Watts:

“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Despite the truth of this statement, humans still tend to resist change. Even something as simple as changing a step in a safety procedure can create resistance and anger.

However, without change, we’d still be driving without wearing safety belts and ignoring all kinds of horrible workplace hazards. So embracing change and getting involved in it not only will help you handle it better but ?will make you part of the process that improves our future.

Perhaps by getting involved you may be able to “change the change” into something you like more.

So, if change is brewing in your life, get involved and be part of the process!

Richard Hawk helps companies around the world create more vibrant safety cultures by showing them how to make safety fun. As a professional speaker, author and musician, he also inspires employees to focus better and enlightens safety leaders about ways to increase their influence. To learn more about Richard, visit www.makesafetyfun.com.

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