How do we Assimilate and Perceive Change?

For every human being, the assimilation of change in both professional an personal areas, is complex. We have two ways of facing change, positively and negatively. In each way, the stages we come through are different.

As you will see after reading the article, most of us will be reflected on the sequence of emotions we feel during this process.

Regarding changes perceived negatively, we commonly suffer the following stages:

  1. Immobility: when we receive the communication about the change, we perceive confusion and immobility. The change management agent should acknowledge this step as normal and not criticizing it.
  2. Denial: we loose a known position and the feeling of safeness which is created by living in a predictable environment. This fact induces us to deny what it is happening and there will be a predisposition to continue as if anything had happened.
  3. Anger: After immobility and denial, we will adopt a passive attitude. Once this two stages are gone, an active response may appear in the form of rage and/or indignation, to defend the previous state. The anger could be focused on that agent who implemented the change in most of the cases.
  4. Negotiation: we tend to protect the previous situation and try to keep things as they were before. Besides, we try to get a benefit to compensate the loss.
  5. Anguish: after the negotiation attempts, a new stage begins characterized by feeling anxiety and anguish. The intensity is directly proportional to the degree of uncertainty we are suffering. At this point, the affected people are beginning to accept the new situation although the perception of the change is still not very realistic.
  6. Sadness: nostalgia (generated by the loss) is materialized as we cannot recover the previous situation of comfortability.
  7. Depression: it is a normal reaction which any emotional-balanced person can suffer. We do not question the change and acknowledge it as a new situation.
  8. Assimilation and acceptance: we experiment the feeling of having our lives under control. Besides, we recover our working capability and are opened to new opportunities.

Regarding to the changes perceived positively, the stages are the following:

  1. Initial euphoria: we do not perceive the difficulties and the magnitude of the new challenges. It may cause and excess of euphoria and optimism. We can think that everything will be fantastic, easy and feasible.
  2. Making contact with the difficulties: the change is being developed and we start to assimilate the difficulties within it. The initial confidence could be weakened, even changing our optimism to perceiving this change as a negative issue.
  3. Restoring a more balanced view: if the change evolves positively, people start to think it is feasible and strengthen the confidence about the capability to undertake it. The perception of what is happening is more realistic. While the change is being positive, the confidence and energy we experiment boost accordingly.

As a conclusion, anytime we face any kind of change, we need to think about the positive outcomes. In case we do not agree with it and we can’t change it because it is beyond our reach, try to focus on how to assimilate it in a positive way to avoid falling into a spiral of negativity.

Hope this post has been interesting and looking forward to your comments and recommendations!