Five Skills to Prevent Change-Related Stress

Updated: Sep 23

We’ll get to that when things slow down…


Really? When will things slow down? Slowing down is unlikely in our technology-driven, push-for-results world.

Change is constant, necessary and often stress-filled. Mastering the following five skills will build resilience and help to reduce stress.


1.) Choose a Positive Approach

People who are positive view life as challenging and opportunity filled. They choose to frame their situations positively:


How can I make the most of this situation vs. How can I get through this situation. How can I support this employee vs. How can I deal with this employee?

2.) Be Focused

Change can be confusing…the familiar and known ways are edged out by new and uncomfortable realities and demands. Decide up front that you will keep your mind on what you can control. Spending time and energy worrying about all possible concerns will drain you. Choose daily exactly what you will focus on. Create clear, measurable and attainable short-term goals.

Complete my first report by XX date, or research and implement our new policy by March 31.

3.) Flexibility is Essential

When demands exceed capacity we can be pushed to the breaking point. Stress builds. NO seems like a great response to any new request. But you may not be able to say NO to key customers or to your boss, or your boss’s boss.


Instead of saying No, explain what you can do, by when. Seek to understand the need underlying requests. Then, identify how to satisfy requests on your terms using your skills. Apply the 24 hour rule: Give yourself 24 hours to think through what’s being requested. Is the request realistic? In line with goals? Supported by available resources? How can you help re-shape the request to flexibly support it?


Hmmm…help me understand how you’ll use this. (LISTEN) So if I can get you these three numbers by Thursday, will that suffice in lieu of the entire report?


Focus on finding a way to give others what they truly need, which may not be what they originally request or want.

4.) Stay Organized

Applying structure helps to manage ambiguity. Set up a tracking system, use a spreadsheet, keep your notes and resources in logical files. Employ the FAD rule: File Act or Delete all emails. Use your calendar to alert you to milestones and deadlines. De-cluttering and cleaning out your IN BOX can reduce confusion and stress.


5.) Be Proactive

Avoiding change creates stress. Engage change, express your opinions and contribute to events so that you have a voice. Better to be in the game influencing outcomes rather than on the sidelines waiting for directions.

Change is inevitable. Using these five skills enables people to better absorb disruption and reduce stress.

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