We can all probably remember the earthquakes that ripped through Nepal last summer at the great loss of life and the aftershocks that followed that caused such anxiety and fear.

Sometimes life throws up such earthquakes and aftershocks that cause us great distress and anxiety and result in us responding in ways that can be damaging to others or self-destructive to ourselves.

Last weekend such an earthquake hit an organisation that I am associated with several shockwaves rolling through as individuals responded with varying degrees of approaches.

Broadly speaking those who responded could be separated into three distinct groups:

Group 1: those who are already frustrated with the organisation.  Their response is generally to take the earthquake as further fuel for their fire.

Group 2: those who naturally struggle with change and irrespective of the nature of the change would struggle with it.  Their response is generally that of resistance.

Group 3: those who have a personal sensitivity to the specific issue at hand and,  while they strive to operate within the boundaries of the organisation, this is a knock-back that causes anxiety and distress.  Their response is typically highly emotional and can trigger very emotional responses.

each group is sincere and yet different in their response and require a different approach to supporting them through the the change.

Steven Covey, author of then 7 habits series of books  has as one of his key habits: “Seek first to understand and then to be understood”.

He also advocates a pause between something happening to us and how we choose to respond to the action, as we think through the impact of the action and choose to be in control of our reaction.

The key lesson here is that when we are emotionally charged, our communications may be different to what they would be when we have taken a step back and given ourselves sometime to think this through.

The next time an earthquake hits your organisation and the shockwaves send you into a state of high alert, take time to reflect on what might lie behind it, consider your feelings about the change and, before you find yourself communicating in a way that you may later regret, give yourself some space to clear your head and ensure that your communications reflects your long term beliefs and values and  not just your immediate feelings.

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