CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Briefing - How to embrace change with Emotional Intelligence

CEO Briefing

How to embrace change with Emotional Intelligence

Nicole Soames

Given the fast-paced nature of the world around us, it’s never been more important to harness your emotional intelligence to help you adapt to new situations and accept that change is an integral part of life. Embracing change is hard. It’s not surprising that it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. People with low levels of adaptability prefer a predictable daily routine, find it difficult to change an opinion and like to stick with the tried and tested. Thankfully, as the pandemic showed us, most of us are more adaptable than we realize.

The curve change model shown below is a useful tool that can help you understand people’s response to change. Based on a model developed in the 1960s by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross to explain the grieving process, the Change Curve shows the four emotional states people go through as they experience change: shock or denial, anger or fear, acceptance and commitment.

It’s entirely normal for people to go through a period of emotional adjustment as they come to terms with change – even when change has positive ramifications. Whatever the cause of the change, people generally respond in similar ways. Initially, they respond with shock or denial as they deal with the change to their status quo. They then experience either anger or fear as they realize the extent of the disruption that the change brings, before progressing to acceptance and the acknowledgement that the change is inevitable. The final stage is commitment, when the person is bought into the change and their focus is on rebuilding. The secret to adapting effectively to change is to learn how to accelerate through the Change Curve.

emotional intelligence

The following steps will help you dial up your emotional intelligence by boosting your adaptability. 

Change Your Mindset

The first step is to change your mindset and view change as exciting, not scary. Try to look for the benefits that change can bring. Be open-minded and see it as a learning opportunity. Don’t sweat the small stuff – focus on the bigger picture instead. Resist the temptation to play it safe, be flexible and say ‘yes’ to opportunities that come your way. Whether it’s learning Italian, taking up tennis or signing up for an art class, try something new and reap the rewards of greater confidence.

Trust Your Gut Feeling

The next step to help you manage uncertainty is to trust your gut feeling. We are often our own worst enemy – talking ourselves out of new opportunities before they’ve even begun. The secret to embracing change is to stop over-analysing and go with what feels right for you. Going around in circles can result in indecision that leaves you feeling stuck in limbo.

Instead, trust your judgement and have the impetus to go for it! If things don’t work out as you’d planned, don’t panic – just course correct. It’s entirely normal to feel off course at some time or another. Perhaps you’ve tried something that hasn’t worked or maybe you feel out of your depth and in your panic zone. Whatever the situation, the secret is to tune in to how you are feeling, be flexible and make adjustments accordingly. By course correcting in this way, you will feel more in control and this will give you the confidence to be an agent of change and keep trying new things going forward.

I often use the metaphor of surfing to help people get a clearer understanding of how to manage change. Picture a surfer riding their biggest wave – they can’t control the wave so they need to know how to negotiate it and keep their balance. It takes real focus and intent to make the most of their time on the board.

They know the ride won’t last forever but when they wipe out, they need to have the drive to get back up. It’s about adopting a can-do mindset, pushing their limits and focusing on their end goal so they can master the next wave. Life is not linear – we all experience a series of waves that knock us off course. As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” The secret to success in life is to have the resilience to get back on course and the ambition to ride the next wave.


Written by Nicole Soames.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - CEO Briefing - How to embrace change with Emotional Intelligence
Nicole Soames
Nicole Soames is an EQ-qualified trainer, coach, and influencing specialist who has 25 years commercial experience developing tailored influencing training and coaching programmes for more than 85 different clients, in a broad range of industries, in over 12 countries. She is the author of The Emotional Intelligence Book and four other business books.


Nicole Soames is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn, for more information, visit the author’s website CLICK HERE.