Originally published by Leigh Kendall – 10th January 2019
Life is full of emotional ups and downs. When we’re going through a period of change or transition, whether in our work or personal lives, those emotions can intensify.
When we’re dealing with intense happy, joyful emotions life is brilliant and exciting. The negative emotions can be more difficult to deal with. Negative emotions can include feeling sad, angry, or fearful, for example. Emotions are complex: it’s useful to be able to articulate the emotion, to be able to understand what has triggered an emotion – we’re better able to respond to, process, and positively deal with what we understand.
The emotion wheel – the image below is adapted from the model by Robert Plutchik – can help us identify what’s behind the emotions.
Fear of change is common – that fear may come from being scared, and feeling helpless; or feeling insecure or inadequate. Anger might be a symptom of frustration – a particular incident that might be innocuous in isolation might have been ‘the last straw’. Or they might be feeling let down, betrayed and resentful. Sadness may be caused by feeling vulnerable, or hurt.
If you observe a colleague or a friend experiencing any of these emotions, please do take the time to try and support them. You might not always be able to solve the issue, but you can help by providing a listening ear and perhaps signposting to support as appropriate. This post – tips 6 and 7 in particular – has advice that will hopefully be useful.
It’s particularly useful to understand triggers for emotions when leading change. As the article this post links to describes, empathy is vital when communicating change: how the change is communicated is even more important than what is said. Part of the how is ensuring the communication doesn’t just broadcast, but is two-way, proactively seeking feedback and engaging in conversation.
Take the time to ask for feedback. Ask open questions. Listen to the responses – really listen, seek to understand. Where possible, have face-to-face conversations with people (whether that’s in person or making use of technology such as Skype or Zoom) to enable that depth of understanding.
The feedback will provide valuable intelligence that will help craft communications with appropriate tone, as well as content. That intelligence will of course provide the ability to address solve issues that are causing concern, or creating a barrier to the change.
Taking the time to understand is always worth the investment.
Using the insights from these interviews, we were able to identify how each employee segment felt about the change effort, and planned communications based on whether they were excited, frightened, or frustrated.