Having Empathy In Times Of Change

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting with a past client whom I have come to value as one of my life mentors. Her coaching and training skills are remarkable, and she can read a situation like few people I know. She has been enormously successful in her roles at two Fortune 100 companies and is no stranger to change.

As we talked, she began discussing her new work toward a coaching certificate. While she was thrilled to be doing it, she also expressed a high degree of anxiety, fear and dread as she was moving in this new direction. Because of her frequent leadership on change initiatives, I was perplexed as to her conflicted state of mind. I thought she should be more positive about this journey of change. That was until about a week later-and then I understood completely.

Twenty two years after earning my Master's Degree in Education, I am returning to graduate school. As part of my entrance into the program, I was required to take a placement test. When I stepped out of the car and began walking toward the administration building, I experienced those same wide range of emotions that my mentor had talked about just a week earlier.

Change, even change we impose on ourselves or actually look forward to making, is rarely easy. The next time you are tempted, like me, to minimize someone's fear or resistance to change, stop and think about past changes-or future ones-that have (or will have) a similar impact on you.

How could you show more empathy toward someone facing change today?

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