by Colin Yeow

In the industry, there are many models that discuss how people deal with changes both at work (individual or organisational change) and personally, but none of them subscribe to the idea that, perhaps, we each respond to change differently. How odd, considering we know from empirical data that we are unique individuals and we very often respond to the same catalyst in different ways.

I was at a personal change workshop recently and it was interesting to witness first-hand how some groups of people designated a “change of management” as a Cat 2 (ref: Cat 1 least impact – Cat 5 most impact change categorisation based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) change while some others designated it as a Cat 3 change. As they discussed, they came to a conclusion that they were discussing the exact same changes but they realised that they responded to it differently.

This is particularly striking to me at this point in time because we are currently undergoing a major change in our Asia operations. Internally, when we discuss issues, it is clear that some of us are bursting with excitement about what the future holds, while the rest are frustrated about the nitty-gritty details that need to be ironed out. All of us, however, are in agreement that these changes represent a positive business decision. Our personal responses are just different.

When announcing this and other news to our Associates and customers, it is always interesting to see that more often than not, those with a conceptual, visionary thinking preference (yellow or conceptual thinking preference in Emergenetics terms) send us replies congratulating us with excitement written all over their emails or text messages (especially those who are in the 3/3 of expressiveness, if I may add).

Those with a cautious, process-oriented thinking preference (green or structural thinking preference in Emergenetics terms) have generally replied asking what specific changes would take place and are concerned about how they would be affected.

The important thing to realise is that neither response is necessarily good or bad – both are acceptable responses as long as we understand where our Associates and customers are coming from.

Understanding our own responses and those of our Associates and customers has helped us craft different strategies to put their concerns to rest and to respond to them more effectively. More importantly, it stops us from taking the unhealthy step of labelling certain Associates or customers as “more supportive” or “more cynical” – this type of behaviour, especially within the context of an organisation, quickly kills trust and prevents a healthy organisational culture from evolving.

When we assume everyone should or would respond similarly to ourselves, unnecessary tension and conflict arise. If we start from the point that we each have unique ways of responding to any given situation, many seemingly ‘difficult’ situations encountered at work or home can often be resolved quickly and easily.

May the path ahead in this new year be a smooth one for you, even if you are surrounded by changes. It is our personal response that matters.