“Does the thought of change make you feel fearful? Does it make you anxious? How did you ride the pandemic storm at work?” these were some questions that Bala, Culture Alignment consultant was posing to John, COO of the organisation.
John felt weathered by the storm, as if he had just stepped off a ship. Having to run with his intuition, he did his best. While he always thought of himself as adaptable, he felt the enormous stress at work. People were living in fear of losing their jobs. They had to adapt to new work from home regimes.
Fast forward to the future and post pandemic saw the organisation awaken. What they had not realised was the power of self-management. Each person managing their mental health with tools that left them empowered. These employees knew how to turn change into opportunities and stay motivated at work.
Janice who was CEO recognised this. She observed that her employees who had a rough time were ones who were not high performers. They did not know which way to turn as they had not grown over the years.
A big component to survival was having Behavioural Flexibility. The individual with the most flexibility won! While they couldn’t control everything that happened around them, they could control their response.
Janice hired Sylvia who was a Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) specialist to help her people acquire this skill. Behavioural flexibility was the ability to vary behaviour to get the desired response from another. The opposite of course did not augur well especially for stressed situations, as people responded automatically, as a matter of habit, which presented a great limitation.
“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” George Bernard Shaw
Here are other ways to build behavioural flexibility;
✔▪Reduce stress at work by being proactive. Do a SWOT analysis of your skills and knowledge. Then consider training or coaching to strengthen yourself.
✔▪If you’re facing upheaval at your workplace, look for common ground in the previous situation/role compared to present. Leverage by finding ways to apply your existing skills in the new situation.
✔▪Ask for information and get clear on the big picture of what’s going on. Changes are often not clearly communicated within organisations. Don’t contribute to communication problems at the workplace by simmering in frustration quietly.
✔▪Find ways to stay motivated at work while you’re dealing with the changes.
2. State Management
In NLP, state is ‘how we are feeling at any given moment’. It includes the words, pictures and sounds in our mind, and the sensations in our body. Most people experience a constant state of flux throughout the day, making it hard to reduce stress at work.
Once you learn how to manage your state, dealing with changes at work will become much easier. Our state changes in a split second when we perceive a threat from the environment.
As an example if you have communication problems at the workplace. One morning, you walk into the office, your colleague doesn’t greet you, and you get stressed thinking she’s angry at you. Now, you’re in an unhelpful state that can make your day quickly go downhill, if unchecked.
In NLP, state management is the ability to;
i. feel and radiate positive emotional states
ii. redirect unhelpful emotions into healthier responses. For example, redirecting ‘irritation’ into ‘calm and collected’, ‘anxious’ into ‘calm and focused’, ‘fear’ into ‘confidence’.
iii. maintain the desired emotional states whatever happens in a situation.
Points to Note in Managing Your State
a) First, be mindful of your state from moment to moment. If you’re not aware, you can’t manage it. Observe what triggers you. Observe what makes helps you and what is in the way for you to manage your state.
b) Next, learn how to manage your state. It doesn’t have to be only for dealing with changes at work. You can create states for any situation to reduce stress at work. State management is more effective from inside out.
Physical techniques like power postures can help initiate a more helpful state but the effects are short lived. Learning how to manage your state in an NLP course will definitely help maintain desired states for longer periods of time.
c) You can strengthen your state management by learning the art of anchoring, an NLP technique which can help reduce stress at work and stay motivated at work.
In conclusion, dealing with changes at work is better when you’re pro-active. Which would you prefer? Being at the mercy of changes beyond your control? Or taking charge?
Choosing to take charge of how you respond to changes by practising behavioural flexibility and state management will definitely reduce stress at work.
It’s easy when you know how. By doing so, not only do you deal with the changes effectively but you’ll also stay motivated at work.
Sylvia is a qualified Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Trainer. She started her business in Sydney and is now based in Singapore.