We feel all sorts of emotions every day. In greater or lesser measure we react to the world around us by feeling and not just thinking. A delayed bus can easily irritate us; the offer of a cup of coffee by a colleague can raise our happiness levels; disappointment can make us sad. When things change around us, so do our emotions.
As we adapt to new situations, we are more alert, more receptive, more open. Change does not only affect us in the present, but it can also move us in unexpected ways as we imagine the future. A presentation can go incredibly well, opening the door to new opportunities. However, this can lead to fear creeping in as we imagine how these new opportunities also present new challenges and we begin to doubt whether we will be able to rise to the occasion.
If we are happy at work, if using some of the processes has become second nature, if we are happy to stick to our routine confident that things are under control, the smallest of changes can have an unexpected effect. We might feel anger at the change agent for disrupting our life, we might begin to doubt whether we’ll be able to continue operating at our best or we might feel happy at the thought of things changing for the better.
This sudden burst (or slow release) of emotions will have an effect on the atmosphere at work. For a start, different people will feel different emotions and at different times. You might feel happy when a new change is introduced but a colleague might feel nervous while your manager feels threatened. As time passes, you might feel uncomfortable with the way you are adapting, your colleague might have conquered his nerves and feel energised while your manager has become depressed.
This cocktail of feelings makes adapting to change an emotional process and not just a cognitive one. Our brains have to be ready to learn to adapt to the new systems and sometimes our emotions might just make that learning curve a bit steeper. If you are the change agent, or are responsible for implementing change in your team, you must accept that the road will be a rocky one as the complex beings called humans, try to adapt.