“It isn’t the changes that do you in; it’s the transitions” William Bridges
Conversations can help us adapt to change, whether organisational, technological or social. It may sometimes feel that we have only just got to grips with one change than things are changing again. As creatures of habit, altering the way we do things can cause anxiety as we have to step out of our comfort zone. Then, learning new patterns of behaviour or routines takes time and energy…..and so we may seem to resist them.
Much has been written about how to spot resistance and strategies for handling it. Yet according to William Bridges, it is not the change itself that is the problem. We humans need time to adjust, to go through a process of transition, which is a psychological process of internalizing and adapting to change.
Enabling conversations help people through transition
Dialogue and communication form the basis of all human relationships and interactions. They help us plot our pathway through life. Some conversations are just talk, but what makes a conversation productive comes from understanding what we want, and then making progress towards it. We influence others by how we communicate with them and the language we use can change minds, enabling them to move from a resistant mindset to one of acceptance and involvement.
According to John Dewey, communication is the central process of learning. It is the means by which we negotiate, understand one another’s experiences, and establish shared meaning. He wrote:
“To be a recipient of a communication is to have an enlarged and changed experience. One shares in what another has thought and felt and in so far, meagrely or amply, has his own attitude modified. Nor is the one who communicates left unaffected. … one has to assimilate, imaginatively, something of another’s experience in order to tell him intelligently of one’s own experience. …”
When something is playing on our minds, having a trusted friend or colleague in whom we can confide helps. Often good listening is all that is required to help a person resolve their thinking and feelings around the issues. The process of talking out a difficult situation improves our own understanding of it and any action we need to take may become immediately apparent.
Gentle probing questions are effective at peeling away whatever is clouding our thinking, attitude or judgement around change. The act of being asked a question changes our experience, as it forces us to process it. It requires us to organise our thoughts, consider different perspectives, formulate opinions, and decide what we want.
When we state what is important to us in any given situation and what we want from it, we reveal our inner motivations. This is most useful when we face difficult decisions requiring action – such as moving house, or starting a new role or changing career.
The more we hear ourselves talk about the change we want, the more likely it is we will act on it to bring it about. This is the outcome of a productive conversation.
Holding regular, purposeful and focused conversations helps people to take more control and responsibility for how they respond to their situations, so they are better able to manage the challenges they face. Such conversations enable us to learn for ourselves, to develop our capability to identify resources and solutions to resolve our own problems, and therefore, become more resilient in the face of emerging challenges.
Want to know more? Core Communications can teach you how to hold more productive conversations.