There are three women in my life who are currently pregnant. For all three women and their families, these pregnancies will be a significant change. Even though each woman is going through the same change event, however, their individual reactions to the news have been very different.
Good news! Or is it?
Recent posts have focused on how we can react differently in the face of uncertainty during change. To switch lanes on the same highway, this and future posts will take a broader look at our reactions when change is introduced.
This two-part post introduces how the same change can garner very different reactions (part 1), and how to minimize the potential for extreme reactions (part 2). The case study focuses on the perspectives of three women who became pregnant. While the names have been changed, the people and associated reactions are real. This was previously posted a few years ago, but I thought it a good introduction to different reactions to the same change. Enjoy!
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She's having a baby!
Upon learning the news, one of the women, let’s call her Abigail, mentioned how everyone around her seemed to be so happy and excited, but because there was so much uncertainty surrounding finances at the time, she wasn’t able to share in the excitement. Rather, Abigail was concerned about how her and her family would manage with this new addition. Already under a great deal of pressure to bring in an income, this surprise pregnancy was, at first, considered a hindrance to Abigail in achieving her financial goals and stability.
For Belinda, while the pregnancy also came as a surprise, once the initial shock subsided, she was thrilled with the news. Sure, the timing wasn’t as she and her husband had planned, and the news has required a lot of thought about how this change might impact her job and career; however, she is excited about this turn of events in her life, and for this new experience.
Candice has a new husband and someone she considers to be the first real love of her life. She was hoping to become pregnant, and could barely contain the news once she learned her hopes and dreams had come true. With two other children in their teens, Candice is looking forward to having a new baby in the house.
Change is in the eye of the beholder.
Each of these women had a different reaction to the same change, based on their individual situations and perceptions about it. The same can be seen when any changes are introduced, whether in our personal lives or at work. While some people might be excited and welcoming of the change, others may not be so quick to embrace it. In fact, some might downright resist the change, or find themselves completely overwhelmed by the prospect of it.
As exemplified by Abigail’s, Belinda’s and Candice’s reactions, there are some things that influence how well we receive a particular change:
Expectation. Candice, who was trying to become pregnant, was happy from the start when she got what she wanted. It took a little longer for both Abigail and Belinda to embrace the change because it came as a surprise.
Timing. Where Candice’s preference for becoming pregnant was “as soon as possible”, Belinda’s and Abigail’s, timing was less defined, and may not have even been thought about before. Because of this, the news required time to sink in and for their thinking and perceptions about the future to adjust. Since Candice’s perceptions were already in synch with this change, she automatically adapted to the good news. Belinda, while surprised, was able to adjust after the initial shock subsided because she also welcomed the news. Abigail, however, was both surprised and concerned by the news, and, as a result, her adjustment period took longer.
Alignment. Candice was automatically aligned with the change, and Belinda aligned shortly after hearing the news and was able to work out how this change would impact her life. For Abigail, however, there were perceived barriers that hindered her ability to completely embrace it, which had to be resolved before she could welcome and look forward to this change.
Abigail was hesitant to speak of her reaction to the news of her pregnancy because those around her expected her to embrace it and be happy. In conversations where she was showered with congratulations and excitement, Abigail withdrew and became silent because she couldn’t relate to their sentiments. She decided to carve out some time to really think about her situation and priorities, which resulted in some life-shifting changes that allowed her to embrace her pregnancy. While this took some time, it was necessary for Abigail in order to align with her change.
Why the differences?
It is common for people to be expected to quickly get on board when change is introduced. Some will embrace the change right away, if it aligns with their interests. Others might need some time to adjust if the change comes as a surprise, and may need even more time if the change isn’t initially welcomed. For those who aren’t aligned, if there is fear in sharing their concerns, they may become isolated and withdraw or become increasingly disengaged.
Expectation, timing and alignment can help us to better understand individual reactions to change. There are also several factors that can help people adjust more smoothly when a change is introduced. Stay tuned for part 2 (and the conclusion) of this case study tomorrow!
What have you seen?
Where have you experienced or observed different reactions and speed of adaptation in your world? What happened as a result of these differences? Please share your thoughts and get the conversation started!in the reply
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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