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Poor Behavior 10: Being Uncomfortable with Change

by Vivian Scott
April 2012

Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott

Vivian Scott

Change almost always brings fear. When a shift from the normal is announced, many employees can become hyper anxious as they wonder what creepy crawly things await them. Others rage. And, then there are those who hide from any change by sticking their head so deep in the sand they begin to suffocate. Most employees do a little of each of these actions that are examples of the tenth of a dozen behaviors that cause conflict in the workplace. Namely, being uncomfortable with change.

Rather than raging, hiding, or making yourself sick with anxiety, try processing your fear. Get a piece of paper and write down everything that will be different. Include things you’ll miss like people, tasks, or processes as well as aspects of the change that could potentially benefit you like networking with new people and tackling new tasks. Begin to focus on the positive and let go of the past by asking questions with the understanding that not all the answers will be readily available.

If processing on your own doesn’t ease the fear, talk things out privately with a trusted confidante. Be sure to avoid public, negative discussions and don’t participate in gossip. Allow yourself a finite period of time in which to wallow in your anxiety (like the weekend) and then set an example by speaking positively about the change. Talk about the silver lining for both you and your coworkers by giving examples of things you can now do that you couldn’t before. If you can’t find the silver lining, start to craft solutions for potential problems.

If someone you know is struggling with change, ask them to find their own opportunities in the new normal. Will they be able to spend more time with family or participate in their favorite outside activities? Will the increased job responsibilities enhance their resume and better prepare them for a promotion? Help them process their emotions by talking privately and letting them share what’s most upsetting about what’s happening. Sometimes it’s not the actual change that’s distressing but the way in which it was communicated that causes a poor reaction.

Whatever the reason for being uncomfortable, finding the positive in the new normal as quickly as possible helps. Sometimes the benefit is simply having a job in a bad economy. There may be very little you can impact with the uncertainty, but your attitude and approach to the news is always 100% under your control.


Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies.  She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success.  Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.     

Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways.  “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity.   Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.   

Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington.  She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes.  Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm.  Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.   

Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on,, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.    

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