The Four Stages of Change

Updated: Dec 15, 2020

We’ve finally reached December and the end of 2020 – a year of change for so many of us. Some of those changes, including more Zoom calls than ever before with our co-workers and friends, we could control. But others, like the results of the presidential and local elections, we could not.

As we prepare to enter a new year, let’s discuss change itself and how we respond to it.

Over the next four weeks, we will use an easy-to-read, question-and-answer format to travel through the four stages of change: denial, resistance, exploration and commitment.

There is value in each stage. Understanding the signs and benefits will help you and your team achieve new experiences – and a new outlook – in 2021!

First up is denial.

Q: What is the denial stage?

A: The absolute rejection of a thought, idea, process or person that attempts to bring change into one’s life personally or professionally. This stage invokes a great amount of energy into believing that the change will not take place.

Q: Where does it fall in the stages of change?

A: The denial stage is the first of four stages of change, followed by resistance, exploration and commitment.

Q: How do I know if my team or employee is denying change?

A: If people are denying change, they will begin to have toxic discussions, gossip, and even look for new jobs or details. There are other behaviors that display denial, so the key is to pay attention to that which is not obvious.

Q: How can I help my team or employee shorten this stage?

A: Talk. Communication in this case is not overrated. Frequent discussions can shift a culture from toxic to productive. Even if the communication is limited, it is not to be discounted.

With denial, we’re just getting started. Next week, we will explore the resistance stage, where you and/or your team accept change is happening, but refuse to comply.

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