Same change, different reactions.
Meet Archie and Daphne, who work closely together as copywriter and art director for an advertising agency. They recently heard through the grapevine that their biggest client is considering a move to a different agency.
Archie gets right on it, reaching out to his network to get info on any job openings, updating his resume, connecting with colleagues in the client group to see if the rumors are true, and what his agency, or he and Daphne, can do to thwart the client's move to a different agency. He then makes a long list of things he needs from Daphne in order to clean up or close out his project and other work files.
Meanwhile Daphne seems content to continue with the status quo. There are too many unanswered questions, and trying to make sense of it all just makes her head spin. So in an attempt at finding equilibrium, she goes about her business as though nothing has happened, because, as far as she is concerned, nothing has happened yet.
Daphne's reaction really annoys Archie. "Doesn't she see the urgency in taking action right away?" He grumbles to himself. At the same time, Daphne becomes increasingly resistant to Archie's urges to "go, go, go", and believes that he is jumping the gun and wasting time and energy as a result. Daphne's slow-down creates a speed-up reaction in Archie, which is offset by Daphne's slowing-down even more, and so on and so on until eventually one or both of them loses their cool, which results in snide, sarcastic comments and frequent bickering, ultimately damaging their previous close-knit working relationship.
Last week I wrote a lot about two specific reactions to uncertainty during change; the Busy Bee and Stuck In The Mud. As these are two dramatically different reactions to the same thing (uncertainty), I thought it might be fun to consider what happens when two people working or living within close proximity experience such different reactions to the same change.
Even though we may share a change, how we react to it can be very personal, based on our perceptions about the situation, our previous experiences, beliefs, values and so on. When we impose our reaction style on others, we are, in essence, judging them according to standards that they have no reason to meet. Daphne's reaction is based on her needs, style, perceptions, etc. and Archie's on his. It is unfair to assume that other people will react the same way, and for the same reasons as we do. When we make those assumptions, we risk damaging our relationships, because people typically don't like to feel unfairly judged.
Recognizing different reactions to change is helpful, but even more helpful is understanding what to do when such differences arise. Stay tuned this week for more about that.
In the mean time, what experiences have you had with different or opposing reactions to change or uncertainty in your world? Leave a comment and start the conversation!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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