There are many models regarding how people manage change. The reactive change durve is one of the most common. This highlights the stages that people sometimes go through after suffering a setback.
Classic counsellors are able to provide a supportive and non-directive environment in which a person can talk through their experiences. This enables them to work through the curve and take charge of shaping their futures.
Strengths coaches recognise it can be important for people to work through these stages. At an appropriate time, however, they may make certain interventions. These are primarily geared to helping a person to focus on their inner strength. They may, for example, invite the person:
* To recall times they have managed other difficulties successfully.
* To clarify what they did right then to manage it successfully.
* To focus on how they can follow similar principles to tackle the current situation successfully.
This reinforces the philosophy that people possess inner strengths and successful patterns. They can harness these resources to shape a successful future.
There are, of course, models for proactive change. Charles Handy explained how people could take charge of their futures, for example, by surfing on the crest of The Sigmoid Curve. They could anticipate changes, prepare properly and stay ahead of the game.
People did not need to descend into the far depths of the curve. But some individuals, teams and organisations failed to think ahead and act. They only began to change when it was almost too late.
Background to the Reactive Change Curve
There are many different models for reactive change. Most are based on the writings of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who is probably best known for her model about the stages of grief.
She described the following stages that people often go through when facing the prospect of death or what they perceive to be a negative transition. Starting from feeling relatively stable, they then embark on the following stages.
* Denial: “This can’t be true.”
* Anger: “Who is to blame?”
* Bargaining: “If things work out, I promise to live a better life.”
* Depression: “This is awful. I can’t see a way forward.”
* Acceptance: “I am ready to move on.”
Elisabeth explained that the phases were not necessarily sequential and people may go through some, but not all, of them. There would be up-and-downs, regressions and leaps forward.
Some researchers challenged the model, but many people found it gave a framework for making sense of their experience. This was in itself liberating.
Many others have since built on Elisabeth’s work and added to the model. These have provided more insights about how people can overcome difficult situations.
Different people react in different ways, but imagine that somebody has experienced a setback. They may have had a bereavement, lost their job, suffered a rejection or whatever.
People may go through the stages of shock, denial, paralysis and anger. Embarking on a process of healing, they gather strength and set new goals. People work hard, gain success and enjoy a renewed sense of confidence.
The process is not linear. People may start climbing the curve, think they are over the worst and then revert back to hurt, anger or healing. Sometimes they may also get flashbacks: perhaps getting upset with themselves for their part in the situation.
Sanctuary, Shaping and Success
How to go through the curve? People who suffer a setback often need to spend time in a sanctuary. They need to lick their wounds and perhaps begin to make sense of the experience.
Different people choose different kinds of sanctuaries. They may rest, sleep, write, listen to music, see a counsellor or whatever. People begin to heal and regain their strength.
Sanctuaries are great. But there comes a time to move on, otherwise the muscles atrophy. People focus on what they can control and start shaping their future.
They set short-term goals, work hard and get a success. Feeling more confident, they take the next step in their life or work.
Everybody suffers disappointments. Many people come through the change curve, however, and emerge feeling wiser, stronger and more able to embark on new challenges.