How to Help People Manage Their Emotions Just Before a Change


How to Help People Manage Their Emotions Just Before a Change

Most people behave differently
just before they experience a significant change. Supporting people when they
must bridge their current and future circumstances can make the difference
between a successful or unsuccessful transition. 
During this time, most people express
emotions associated with anticipation—excitement, fear, anxiety, blind
optimism, sadness, etc. The spontaneous nature of these emotions leads to their
amplification. Not managing them leads to distraction and poses a risk to
taking on new ways of thinking and acting.
Since people express different
emotions at different times with different intensities—minimizing the
likelihood of experiencing them is a more productive approach than just addressing
them after they are expressed.
So how do you help people through
this short, but intense, phase of transition? Here are some actions you can
take:
Encourage people to appreciate
what they are leaving behind
Every individual aor group has
traditions and practices that define them. Reliving these practices either through
doing them or storytelling can provide closure to the way things were.
Remind people of the benefits of
what they are taking on
Although this is something that
is important through all stages of change, it is essential just before people
take on new and often uncomfortable ways of behaving. Remembering the ‘why’
behind the change can help justify the anticipated pain of experiencing it.
Offer multiple types of support
as people take on the change
Demonstrating how people will be
supported through their transition can reassure them that they are not alone. Easily
accessible assistance can help minimize the anxiety caused by thinking about the
unknown. Offering multiple types of support demonstrates commitment and builds
confidence that things will be okay.
This week, my family has been
anticipating a significant change. Our eldest son, Sam, is going to university
in Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1,800 kilometres away from our home.
My emotions have been varied and
intense–everything from pride and excitement, to sadness and nostalgic longing.
It has been distracting, but I have been determined not to let it be a risk to our
transition. Here are some actions we have taken:
Encourage people to appreciate
what they are leaving behind
Sam has had many get-togethers
and a party this week. Making them fun and festive was our family’s priority.
We have also spent a lot of time doing and reminiscing about our traditions.
Remind people of the benefits of
what they are taking on
This is an easy one. Sam is
entering an exciting time in his life where he will gain new experiences and
meet new friends. Living in a new city will be an adventure too. He is going to
grow in many ways and everyone is talking about his journey.
Offer multiple types of support
as people take on the change
We have turned Sam’s move into a
family vacation. Barb and Sam are en route to Halifax, and Charlie and I will be
flying today to join them. We will be with Sam for three days followed by
numerous video and phone calls, correspondence. He may not have time to
study. 
Helping people manage their emotions
and behaviours before they experience a significant change directly impacts
their ability to successfully make their transition. This is true of business
and personal changes. A few actions can help ease transitions, as we are
finding out now.

Phil

 
 

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