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Change: Am I paying attention to others?

While we are personally experiencing change, it’s important for us to also recognize that others are experiencing tremendous change as well and they may not adapt, react or adjust to change in the same way that we do. Over the past two weeks, we reflected on how we personally react to change and manage change. Now, it’s time to focus on supporting others in their change experiences. If you are one of those people who quickly adapts to change, be cautious that you don’t move too quickly and minimize your partners’ change experience (and potential discomfort). If you are someone more resistant to change, you may be more easily able to relate to your partners struggling with change. You may also need to be courageous and get out of your “comfort zone” in order to support your partners in adapting to change. This week, I have 3 ways you can pay attention to the change happening with your partners and colleagues that will help support your overall coalition, partnership or team.

  1. Take time to pay attention. During your meetings, consider beginning them with a “check-in” on how folks are doing right now. A couple of months ago, one of my colleagues asked “What are you missing right now?” and it was a powerful way to connect with one another as people shared via chat some things (and mostly people) they were really missing. Perhaps you need to have some one-on-one meetings with key partners who you haven’t heard from in a while. If you have received an email or text message from one of your colleagues or partners letting you know about changes happening, schedule time to talk (and really listen) to her. I recently had a colleague send me a text message highlighting some major changes in her organization. Rather than have a text-message conversation, the best way to show her support was to schedule time to talk in order to better understand what was happening and consider how I (and we as a coalition) could support her.
  2. Listen. Seek first to understand, then be understoodⓇ. Stephen Covey’s principle is still very applicable when it comes to supporting partners and colleagues with change. Ask questions and try to really understand things from your partners’ perspectives.  Encourage curiosity among your coalition members, stay with the discussion until you understand and clarify the challenge of the change that your partners are experiencing. Brené Brown has some great resources on this as well in her Dare to Lead book and workbook. In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book, he says: All the well-meaning advice in the world won’t amount to a hill of beans if we’re not even addressing the real problem. And we’ll never get to the problem if we are so caught up in our own autobiography, our paradigms, that we don’t take off our glasses long enough to see the world from another point of view.
  3. Show empathy. This could be an entire series of blog posts (and may be in the future..:). Empathy is connecting to the emotions of another person’s experience. It’s not about connecting or relating to the actual experience (though that can happen too) but it’s about connecting to grief, disappointment, shame, fear, loneliness, anger, excitement, happiness and other emotions (there may be 30-40 different emotions) that our partners and colleagues may be experiencing. When we show empathy, we courageously choose to listen and be with someone where they are without trying to fix them or say anything that begins with “At least…” One of my favorite short videos about empathy vs. sympathy comes from Brené Brown as well. We can show empathy by understanding the perspective of others (see #2!), avoiding judgment and developing emotional literacy (ability to understand another person’s emotions AND communicate your understanding of those emotions). My new Change Management Reflection Worksheet has some questions about empathy that you can use for reflection as well.

So what about you? What are some questions you have been asking your coalition members or partners that have shown you are paying attention?

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