Dorie L. Griggs

Hate Change? You're Not Alone

By Dorie L. Griggs
First Published in Southern Newspaper Publishers Association eBulletin
February 20, 2003

Kids are great. You don't have to search long to find out how they feel about a particular subject or person. Usually you can see it on their face before they even open their mouths.

My children taught me how liberating it is to be honest with my emotions. If our plans changed at the last minute the boys would fold their arms across their chest, frown, and say, "I don't like change." That's an honest and open reaction we can all relate to.

I think adults can learn from children in this respect. Adults often try to hide their emotions instead of being open about them.

The emotions we experience while going through change are very similar to the emotions experienced in loss and grief situations. In both cases, it's normal to look back at the good old days. The new routine will never be as good as the old one. We romanticize the old routines, forgetting that those old routines were once new to us.

If your newspaper or department is going through changes in policy and procedure, you can take several actions to ease the transitions:

Employers need to remember that any change introduced, whether considered a positive change such as new office space, or a negative change such as employee layoffs, is stressful.

Most experts agree that people experiencing change react similarly to people experiencing grief. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined the stages of grief in her 1969 book, "On Death and Dying." The stages are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

People move through these stages in a variety of ways. Some people experience them in order, and some people won't go through them at all, but move right into acceptance. But being aware of these stages and knowing that it is in normal limits to experience these emotions is helpful.

When you feel like crossing your arms, frowning and saying to your boss, "I don't like change," Understand your emotions are part of a normal process that eventually leads to acceptance.

The information provided in this column is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice.

Dorie L. Griggs holds a Master of Divinity degree and her ministry is to journalists. Contact her via e-mail: dorie@stanleyleary.com

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