Coming into the 2nd work week of 2012, I feel refreshed and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead both personally and professionally. One of my goals for the year is to write more so here I go.
In reflecting on 2011, one thing stood out for me – many unexpected surprises- the biggest being a new baby in October. During my maternity leave, I took some time to think about “change” and how it has been a driving force in both my personal and professional life.
I like to think that some of us (namely me) are wired to crave constant change in our lives. As a former consultant, I spent years on the road traveling to new clients, learning new issues, new industries, new systems. And I loved it. On a personal level, my husband and I have bought a house, had a baby, or switched jobs during every one of the 12 years we’ve been married. For some, this might sound stressful. For me, it is exciting (and sometimes a little stressful).
But these planned changes tend to be much easier to handle than those unexpected changes that happen in the office. Whether we are working on a project that suddenly and drastically switches direction or getting the news that we’ve been assigned a new manager, or getting laid off. These types of changes leave a pit in our stomach and have us asking, “Now what?”
I’ve been in all 3 of these situations and here are some tips on how to handle unexpected change with grace in the workplace:
- Breathe – Before firing off that email or blowing your top, take a walk or wait 24 hours. Changes often cause an emotional response so make sure you get your emotions in check before responding.
- Investigate – Make it a priority to get the back story. Usually there is a good business reason behind those unexpected curveballs and knowing more can make things seem less stressful.
- Accept – Try (it is hard) to accept what is happening…I’m a firm believer in all things happen for a reason. Didn’t get that job you wanted? Maybe because a better opportunity will come later. Major change in project direction? Maybe this will get you exposure to new opportunities.
- Stay positive – nothing will derail you more than a negative attitude. Put on a smile and remember things usually have a way of working out.
Let me end this post with saying – unexpected changes are scary but are most often the best thing for us. You will emerge stronger, smarter, and more experienced – no matter what the situation.
Image of Luke by Silvina B. Photography.