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What do you NEED when it comes to change?


As I was preparing to launch my new website I was thinking how much I used to hate change.  The funny thing is that as I get older I expect to be more set in my ways, not less. But that’s not what’s actually what’s happening.  I’m more flexible and more easy going (although I’m not sure my kids would agree), and I’m not as resistant to change as I used to be.

It’s kind of nice, now that I think about it.  But as I think back to how I became such a happy-go-lucky person (okay, maybe that’s a bit much), the biggest part of the process was finding out what my specific needs were based on my own personality type. Let me explain.

I do a lot of work with the Myers-Briggs personality profiling tool, and I know that my own personality profile is ISTJ*. So I asked myself what I needed so that change wouldn’t be so hard or upsetting.  Here’s what I came up with, and perhaps you can relate.

Time to think: as an Introvert, I like to process information inside my head, in quiet, and then ask questions or make comments later.  Unlike my Extravert friends, I dont like to process things on the fly and think out loud.  And just because I don’t come up with my questions right away doesn’t mean I don’t have any.  So reserving the right to come back and ask questions later takes the pressure off of me at that specific moment.

Detail, detail, detail:  I am a detail person (Sensing) and I like to be able to see all of the little pieces, no matter how small, which I then put together to see the bigger picture. But what I quickly learned about dealing with change is that often times people don’t have all the details, or may not be at liberty to share them.  If they’re not detail people then they’re probably happy just communicating the big picture because that’s what they naturally see and they don’t worry so much about the detail.  But I just patiently ask my questions until I get what I need to put the picture together for myself.  I just try to remember to keep my questions positive, and not fire them out like a machine gun.  Especially with big-picture people, I don’t want to be perceived as being negative when really all I want is some more information.

Where’s the Logic?:  For me, logic is the trump card that drives many of my decisions (Thinking).  Depending on your vantage point, not all change seems logical.  I found this particularly difficult when I was on the lower rungs of the organization because of course I wasn’t often involved in the decision process so I wasn’t privy to all the reasoning. The big ‘ah ha’ for me was that if I thought the change “made sense,” then I was quick to buy in.  But when I didn’t see the logic in it, that was when I tended to dig my heals in.  The remedy: ask more questions and try to understand the change from their perspective and not merely my own.

Planning is my best friend:  Seinfeld had the Soup Nazi, I used to be the time tyrant.  I’m still the plan-the-work-and-work-the-plan type (Judging), but back then, when change didn’t follow a precise schedule or pattern, I would get frustrated.  This is the part of my personality that I’ve worked hard on over the years, especially when it comes to change and being more flexible.  I think I’ve learned much of this from my husband who will only plan in advance on threat of death.  After 20 years I think we’ve found a happy medium, but mostly because what I call flexibility is really me planning for him to change his mind.

So, as you can see, I’ve really tailored my own change-management approach to be in tune with my personality preferences.  I’m not as upset by changes that come along either at work or anywhere else because if I don’t get everything I need, then I know what to ask for.  And with the unrelenting pace of change, this has been a good thing.

ISTJ = Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.  The opposite would be ENFP = Extravert, iNtuition, Feeling, Perceiving.  

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