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3 Ways to Respond to Change


The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, is attributed as saying, “Change is the only constant in life.” And since we would all agree that is true, how do you and which way do you respond to change?

My long-time life and career coach, Nicole Greer, and I have had many talks on this topic. Most of these discussions are in coaching sessions when…you guessed it…there is a change in my life and in my circumstances and I am struggling. She reminds me of the 3 energies I can apply to the changing circumstance.

The three energetic responses are:

  • Over/Against
  • Retreat
  • Toward

Let’s look at all three and see how they may show up for you and for your team.


The first response is Over/Against. The illustration of tug-of-war is perfect for this type of energetic response. Some change is thrust upon you and resistance sets in. You or your team begins to dig in. The trenches are established and we settle in for the long haul. Sabotage is even in the playbook of this response.

As a leader, how often have you been excited about a new process, new protocol, or a new way to build up your team yet, when you arrive on Monday morning you receive the eye rolls, crossed arms, and shaking heads?

They dig in as a fortification surrounding a city under siege. They know you can only hold out for maybe a day, a week or a month…at most. Then they know it will be business as usual.

Or maybe you are facing the change. It could be a competitor opening up down the street, a new direct-to-consumer business model encroaching on your potential clientele, or even a child making a decision you do not like.

Your blood boils, your mind swirls, your stomach turns into a knot. You might even be like the boy below…”I’ll show you!”

The sad part about the resistance is that everyone digs in and no one is cooperating to make the circumstance, or change, better.


Run away! Ignore it!

Retreating is yet another way to respond to change. The thought being if we refuse to face the circumstance before us, it is as if it really does not exist.

This response is the opposite of Over/Against. It is to ignore it as if it will vanish like an early morning mist. But in reality, it only puts off the inevitable. And the inevitable may become more intense when not addressed.

Think of your team. Sometimes we all know someone needs to be “promoted out of the company”. One poor team member can ruin the entire culture. Not only does it create tension and awkwardness for the team, but it destroys the team’s confidence in your ability to lead.

You may hate the thought of firing the employee because you hate such a crucial confrontation. Or maybe the thought of finding a replacement scares you. Either way, putting off the best decision by retreating from it does not make it better or go away.

Don’t ignore a needed change. Face it.


Finally, we have a “Toward” response.

Let’s face it. Change isn’t always easy. Change may not feel good. But if we can ease movement toward it and remain curious, the transition will be easier.

For a personal change. Take one small, repeatable habit at a time. Secure that habit then add another. This keeps us from overhaul resolutions that rarely last.

Within your business, instead of returning from an event and thrusting broad and sweeping changes, start with casting a vision for what you desire. Then start with one change at a time. This will allow your team to more easily draw upon “toward” energy instead of “against” or “retreat” energy.

Draw them in. Help your team moving toward the goal.


As Norman Vincent Peale says, “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

Pay attention. Notice your responses. Observe your team’s responses. Are you taking note as to how you and your team respond to change?

It may be time for some change in your office to ensure you are keeping up with the industry trends. Set you and your team up for success. Watch out for “Against” and “Retreat” attitudes. Foster how you and your team to take on the inevitable change with an attitude and energy of “toward”.

“Slow and steady wins the race.”