Why are we so resistant to change? As I loaded up my dogs this morning to take them to the vet for their annual physicals, I wondered why they were panting their heads off and their bodies were shaking from head to foot. Dogs, like people, are accustomed to routine. When I loaded them in the car, that was contrary to their daily routine. I had moved them out of their comfort zones.
We, too, get nervous when we are faced with change. Many of us choose to stay in bad marriages or in horrible jobs rather than choose a new course. Yet, it’s change that keeps us alive and vital. Clarence Darrow said, “It’s not the strongest nor the most intelligent who survive but those who are resilient to change.”

That quote suggests that we must not only learn how to cope with change but we must learn how to embrace it. As we watch the changing world swirl by us, instead of complaining that we cannot keep up or of hiding in our shell, we need to get on board.

Communication is in a whirlwind of change. We are experiencing what I would call a communication revolution. Most of us grab our cell phone before we grab our purse or our keys when we exit. The cell phone has become an extension of us. How about five years ago? Did you grab your cell phone? Did you have a cell phone? How many kids had laptops? Who even thought about reading a book on a Kindle? Did you know what Twitter was?

Consumers are buying products they find online. They are “googling” items they wish to purchase rather than wandering through a department store. Answers to any of your questions are right at your keyboard. With the stoke of a key you can send information to others. Consumers talk about products they like and dislike online. They evaluate books on Amazon. They evaluate toys on Amazon. The shout their joy or pleasure with what they purchase or the service they received on Facebook and Twitter.

How can we keep up? How can we adjust to the vast changing world and stay sane? Whatever happened to routine?

Now that we agree that change is part of living in a world that’s changing so fast most of us are unaware of it. Let’s look at the steps of change.

First, let me ask you to cross your arms. Now, look down and examine which arm is on top. Now change that and put the other arm on top. How does that feel? For me it feels uncomfortable and as soon as you’re not looking I’m going to re-cross my arms the other way. Change is uncomfortable. As soon as change feels comfortable, we’re asked to change again. It’s an endless process of being uncomfortable.

Steps of Change:

• Awareness. The first step is to become aware of a reason to change. In other words, if you can’t see a reason to change, we won’t do it because it is uncomfortable. In dealing with the social media and the revolutationary changes in our communication, awareness is key. We resist until we understand we must. I hear people say things like, “I don’t see any reason to get on Facebook.” Or “I don’t have time to mess with Twitter.” Or “All this is a fad that will go away.” These responses suggest that these people have not come to an awareness of the need to change. The longer they wait, the more uncomfortable not changing will become.

• Understanding. As soon as we understand the need to change we are ready to understand the change. To do that we must integrate the old with the new. If we try and toss out all the old, we cannot understand the change. It becomes alien to us. We might stick our toe in the water, but we’ll never completely jump in. As you begin working with the social media in small ways, take what you already know and build on that. For example, if you keep a daily journal, begin doing so on a blog. Or, if you upload pictures to your computer, do so on Facebook.

• Acceptance. This is the step in change when you are willing to accept that you must do something. You’re not sure what to do yet, but you are willing to accept that change is necessary.

• Change. Now that you’re ready to make the change because you are aware of it, you understand how it will integrate what you already know and you accept that you must, you can change. But the change itself is a process that includes considering alternatives, following through, practice and repetition and finally change.

Wow! Now we’re comfortable with the change. We feel good. We understand how to use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. We’re adept with the new world of communication. Guess what! It’s now time for you to prepare for the next change. Once we’re comfortable is when we must brace ourselves for whatever comes next.

Author's Bio: 

Joan Curtis is the CEO for Total Communications Coach http://www.TotalCommunicationsCoach.com. She has done leadership training and consulting for over 20 years. Her new book, Managing Sticky Situations at Work http://www.managingstickysituationsatwork, came out in June 2009. In it she creates a new model of communication called the Say It Just Right Model. Her new book, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media co-authored with Barb Giamanco will be out in July 2010 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. Check out the blog, http://www.thenewhandshake.com