Anticipated reactions to change – how can you help?

by | May 1, 2019 | Insights | 0 comments

Personally, I love change, major or minor – I even go out of my way to create change in my life every day!

I do however understand, and have seen, people go through a range of emotions and reactions to change.

The roller-coaster of emotions and reactions can be invigorating, energising, demoralising and debilitating.

All are common reactions and emotions.

So, what explains our reactions? It goes beyond the fact that people tend to feel alone and concentrate on what they will be losing in any change (even positive change)

The Kubler-Ross Change Curve provides some insights through building on the Five Stages of grief and loss (link/reference).

The 5 stages:

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Moving through these stages is not linear, lasting for differing periods of time. We are in different stages at different times; we even go back to stages we have been in before.


How to support your team through the 5 Stages

  • Denial – help people understand the rationale behind the change
  • Anger – listen and understand how the anger is manifesting
  • Bargaining – communicate, listen and engage with staff, acknowledge their suggestions
  • Depression – this is not easy for the team, motive and reward the team
  • Acceptance – celebrate moving forward with the team

Additional emotions and reactions people may exhibit include:

  • Ambivalence
  • Enthusiasm
  • Fear
  • Doubt
  • Resistance
  • Anger
  • Uncertainty

People adapt to, and accommodate change, in their own time.

The Stages of Change Model (developed by Prochaska and DiClemente in the late 1970’s) theorises that individuals move through six stages of change:

  • Precontemplation (Not acknowledging there is a problem that needs addressing)
  • Contemplation (Acknowledging there is a problem, but not yet wanting to make a change)
  • Preparation/Determination (Preparing for change)
  • Action/Willpower (Attempting to changing behaviour)
  • Maintenance (Maintaining the behavioural change)
  • Relapse (Returning to older behaviours)

Different intervention strategies are most effective at moving the person to the next stage of change

What can you do to manage reactions and emotions?

The Change Curve (based on a model originally developed in the 1960’s by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross) is a powerful model to understand the stages of individual and organisational change. It provides some insights into how people may react to change, but it is not the be all and end all. In utilising this model as a leader, manager or change implementer you need to:

  • listen to your staff
  • understand that employees’ reactions will vary greatly
  • identify the reactions and questions employees will have, and prepare your responses
  • ensure staff are given all the information they would to accept the change
  • ensure staff have adequate time to accept the change
  • create hope for the future

Bill Miliotis

Organisational Architect and Change Leader.

Working across multiple sectors, Bill facilitates the creation and implementation of lasting development, growth and outcomes.

For more information visit or email

Never miss a Realise Your Vision post.


Contact Info


0412 390 640

Send a message!