When change is introduced within a group, whether it's a team, an organization, a family or some other social circle, not all minds think alike. Change, after all, may happen, but how we receive and react to it are highly personal.
Typical reactions to change
The past several posts have highlighted four typical reactions to change: Satisfied, Resistant, Distress and Indifference, and all four types of reactions require very different things in order to become more receptive to the change and to the reactions of others:
Now that you know the different reaction types and what people with different reactions need in order to move forward, or at least to move to a place of effective communication around a change, what can you do from here?
1. Become a reactions sleuth.
Start watching and listening to how people respond to new ideas, concepts, changes in their lives and so on. What do they accept? What do they reject and why? When do you notice indifference? When do you see or experience overwhelm?
Sometimes observing others helps us to become more attuned to ourselves and our own reactions. This will be explored future posts, but for now, focus on what you see in others.
2. Master the art of inquiry.
Next, ask questions for clarification and understanding. Questions such as "why are you behaving like such a jerk?", or "don't you agree that this is a good idea?" are not examples of such questions.
Instead, start with naming what you observe: "It seems as though you don't like such and such. Am I reading this correctly?" And then follow the bread crumbs to learn more about that person's perceptions. "Oh, so it's not that you don't like the idea as much as it's that you're feeling overwhelmed. Do I have this right?" If they confirm your suspicions, follow-up with requests such as "Tell me more." or "Say more about that."
Sometimes by describing our observations we'll find we're right-on, and other times we may find we've misread the behavior or meaning behind the words. Asking questions will help you to hone your observational skills, but also to become a master of inquiry. The more we ask, versus assume, the more informed we become, but also the more the other person feels heard and understood...an added benefit!
3. Flex your acceptance muscle.
One last thing. As you begin to uncover the different reactions and associated perceptions people have, it is important to flex your acceptance muscle.
It is easy to judge someone else's experience by saying things like "it's not that bad", or "don't you think you're being unfair?", but by doing this, we shut the door on further conversation by subtly - or sometimes not-so-subtly - letting the person know that we are judging their point-of-view. Individual perceptions are subjective, after all, so why would we expect others will perceive things the same way that we do?
Acceptance is not agreement.
An important distinction to keep in mind is that to accept what a person is saying is not the same thing as agreeing with them. Where agreement is sharing the same or similar perspective, acceptance is merely a recognition of one's individual point-of-view and can go a long way to demonstrate that it is safe to share with us.
Go for it!
So give it a try! See what reactions you can detect and what clues you can uncover to give you a greater understanding of others.
Report what you've learned here too! I'd love to hear what stood out to you, aha's you've experienced or questions you have. Let's get the conversation started!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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