How to Stop Being Afraid of Change

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Time after time we hear a friend or coworker say, “I don’t like change”. This is the rebuttal (or excuse) of someone who likes things the way they are. I say they’re just unwilling to improve, or at least TRY something that may enhance their present way of doing things. But, why are people afraid of change?Stop Being Afraid of Change

The warmth and perceived security of the same old patterns of life are comforting to them. Why venture out of their snug cave emblazoned with wall drawings of the “animals they’ve conquered years ago” or the people who sing their praises. Why step into the light of uncertainty? Because they’re afraid of change. Maybe the big bad wolf will get them.

Here’s the best question to ask people so they can stop being afraid of change.

But first, what is it they really fear?

Evolutionary Change

Evolution is the change over time. These changes may involve all aspects of life including mutation, natural selection, genetic drift, thought, and technology.

I doubt your friend is afraid of this change. If so, they’re watching too many horror movies!

Developmental Change

Developmental change is the process of change that occurs in human beings throughout development. Gene expression, brain function, cognitive processes, behavior, and environmental factors all involve multiple cross-level interactions, and all are characterized by dynamic developmental change over time.

Your friend may be afraid of this change because he must adjust his thinking and how he behaves. Preconceived concepts and prejudices force his thoughts inward and won’t allow another view.

Whether they are effective or not, most people get trapped in a set way of doing things. It’s easy. Why bother to learn a new skill, test themselves, or grow? They see little benefit in doing so. Then, they wonder why opportunities never seem to find them.

Being unwilling to develop new thought processes and behavior is lazy at best.

Transitional Change

These are changes you make to replace existing processes with new processes. Transitional change is more challenging to implement and can increase your employees’ discomfort. Examples of transitional change include: experiencing corporate restructures, mergers or acquisitions.

Fear of change in the workplace is high. They fear new procedures, different management, new work schedules, and worst of all, termination. In anticipation of transitional change, some employees may actively resist by making negative comments or behavior, finding fault in most new measures, and predicting failure – sometimes even before the change starts.

Their inability to adapt to this change may lead to the very thing they fear most. Termination.

Drastic Change

This is the change that is radical or extreme. Example; When you have very long hair and you suddenly shave your head, that’s drastic.

Most people don’t make drastic changes so there’s little to fear of this change. The problem is, many people automatically assume the planned change will be drastic and then get all worked up and stressed out. Relax, it probably won’t be as bad as you think. And, if it is, there’s nothing you can do about it. Let go of this fear and focus more on what you can accomplish.

Transformational Change

In the business world, transformational change involves a company making a “radical” change in its business model, often requiring changes in company structure, culture, and management. Companies may undergo a transformational change in response to crisis, or to reposition themselves in the market.

This kind of change is usually good. The leadership team has devised methods to adapt to existing market conditions leading to greater sales and profit or have developed new products and services to better serve their customers. Either way, the future looks good.

When you hear someone say “I don’t like change” ask them to specify exactly what they fear. Drill down to the foundation of their fear. The best question to ask to stop being afraid of change is…

Why?

Q. Why don’t you like change? A. It’s because I like the way we do it now.

Q. Why do you like the way you do it now? A. Because I’ve done it this way for years.

Q. Why have you done it this way for years? A. Well, this is the only way I know how to do it.

Q. Why is this the only way you know how to do it? A. I’ve never had training in this field, so I just found my own way to get it done. It does work, but I guess there may be better ways to do it too.

Final Q. Would you like to learn another way of doing it and maybe get trained in ways that have proven to work best? A. Yes, of course! I’ve always wanted to learn more but never had the opportunity.

Questioning their fears opens the true reason behind the fear. Maybe it’s their lack of knowledge or past failures that have made them vulnerable to ridicule or scorn. Or maybe past disappointments have made them shy away from trying something new.

We must realize that “new” isn’t necessarily bad or difficult. Sometimes, the way we do things now is more difficult than making small, incremental changes to achieve the ultimate goal.

What’s the ultimate goal? To stop being afraid of change.

Image courtesy of inc.com/kevin-daum/50-quotes-to-help-you-conquer-your-fears.html

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