How do you react? Techniques

(part 2 of 2)

So, you faced yourself in the mirror. You’ve reflected on past experiences (part 1 of this blog) with and reactions to change and realized and/or confirmed some truths about yourself. Good. This is a very healthy exercise to do and goes a long way towards overall self-awareness.

I believe we’re best positioned if we understand ourselves and our uniqueness so we can identify what might help us navigate change. Below are the techniques that I, personally, use to manage my reactions, myself and related stress levels when facing change.

Personal Techniques


Such a simple, necessary, instinctual bodily function that doesn’t get paid the attention it deserves. Focusing on your breath, taking deep breathes, is a powerful way of calming negative, angry and disruptive thoughts.

Think about it – you’re concentrating on doing something that is essential for survival. Something we do without thought. But when you put thought into it, it acts as a calming agent, providing a short escape to remind yourself that you are human and you will survive.


If you have ever felt the endorphins from a good work-out, yoga class, sport, activity or the high from running, you will understand. It’s amazing how much clarity physical exertion, stretching or meditating can provide. I have run, sweat, stretched and worked myself through many difficult situations, feeling healthier both physically and mentally on the other side

Type (or write) it out, then delete (or throw it out)

This is the physical version of “think before you speak” and works in all situations.

Often when we hear something shocking for the first time, we want to react or say something right away. Our initial emotional response can be quite different from the reaction that follows once we’ve thought about or slept on it. Instead of spewing the first thought that enters your mind – type or write it down.

Get the words out in a physical way that only you will see and don’t send it. With some time, you will be amazed at how your emotions settle and extremely grateful that you did not send or share your words. It can help avoid burning bridges, hurting relationships or saying something you might deeply regret.

Vent in a safe environment

Sometime we just need to talk. We all have our preferred person who knows how to listen without imposing advice, judgement or opinion. Find this person and let it rip. And then, move on.

Make your concerns known, but participate in finding solutions

When something is really agitating me – and breathing, exercising, writing, venting will not get rid of it – I buck up and have a discussion with whomever it involves. This one tends to be my last resort only because I often prefer to avoid conflict.

Expressing that something is wrong, though, is just the first step. If you can pose your opinion/issue and offer some sort of or solution, you’ll demonstrate assertion and a willingness to participate in the resolution, rather than leaving it to them to figure out (which could in turn lead to a solution that you don’t want either, since you weren’t part of framing it). This will go a long way to exposing your self-motivation and desire to be an active participant in your own success (because you are self-aware).

Work-Related Techniques    

Given that right now the public sector is facing change of all varieties, I’d like to leave you with six more concrete, applicable tips you can use in your day-to-day work life. Reflecting on attitudes towards the implementation of change can help identify new ways of perceiving the change. Below are some useful tips and guiding questions to help you accomplish this.

Think positively about the implementation of change

  • For any specific change, what are the positive reasons for this change?
  • What benefits may be gained through this change? For you? For your team?

Link the change vision to your individual aspirations

  • Which elements of the change vision appeal to you?
  • Look ahead 2 years – how could the work environment be improved for you?

Where are you now?

  • What skills and knowledge do you have right now that could positively contribute to the implementation of [specific change]?
  • What attitudes do you have right now that could assist you and your team to move towards the change vision?

How will you move forward?

  • What needs to change to move towards the change vision?
  • What is most important? What needs to be done first?

What development needs do you have?

  • What skills and/or knowledge do you think you need to add or enhance in order to be ready for the [specific change] implementation?
  • What type of further support would help you develop?

Look after yourself

  • List your own stressors and their impact on you
  • Identify those that you have some control over
  • What can you change to reduce their impact?

In part 1 of this blog, I walked you through some questions to consider in assessing the way you react to change. Part 2 revealed my personal techniques as well as some workplace tips. Now, I encourage you to come up with your own list that you can draw from on your personal journey of transition.

Jessica is a business consultant with over ten years of experience working in both public and private sectors. Her ability to understand the clients perspective and aptitude for problem solving has led her to deliver transformational communications, change management, process improvement and performance measurement projects. Jessica is part of Systemscope’s Enterprise Renewal team.


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