Management Articles


How to Thrive with Change

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

There’s nothing more disconcerting, nothing you can count on more, and nothing more valuable to learn how to prepare for than change.

I’m not talking about preparing for each individual change as it comes up. This is an inefficient and reactive way to operate.

I mean preparing your self proactively for the inevitable changes you will encounter throughout your lifetime so that you remain prepared as part of who you are. This is about emotional intelligence, or competency, and this is how you do it.


Just when you think everything’s settled, and the way it’s going to be, along comes a change.

Some of these changes will be good – you get a promotion out-of-the-blue, or suddenly find out you’re pregnant after trying for some time, or the dream house you’ve been looking for comes on the market long before you expected it to or were prepared to move.

Some of these changes will be difficult – a transfer you didn’t want, getting laid off, empty nest, or losing a lover, partner or loved one.

Whether anticipated or not, whether wanted or not, things change, and how we deal with this is a sign of our emotional intelligence (EQ), or competency.

  1. Label it immediately a transition.

    You are not lost in space (no longer a mother), nor at the end of the line (retirement), nor is it the end of the world (getting laid off). You are in the space between one thing and another; a transition. You are not going to create the future, and recreate yourself.

  2. Keep constant what you can and take care of yourself. The first thing most counselors will tell you is something like, “Eat breakfast at the same time every day,” or “Take a warm bath.”

    It’s comforting to recognize what in your life has not changed, and you always need to practice extreme self-care, but particularly at times when the earth seems to be moving beneath you feet.

  3. To handle the emotions, lead with the body.

    If your body is tense, you will feel tense. Work from the direction of your body – exercise, or get massages. There is something healing in the human touch that exercise can’t bring you. It is widely reported in the literature how important massages can be in times of strain.

  4. Use your social support network.

    I’m sure you’ve helped others; now it’s their time to help you. We all go through difficult times, it’s just your time now. Those friends are one of the constants in your life when other things have changed. Get with people who can sing your song when you’ve forgotten it.

  5. If your change brings you time, enjoy it.

    Try a new hobby or get in touch with an old one. How long since you last did needlework? Could you take the trip you’ve been wanting to take?

    Use this time to improve yourself – study art, take a computer course, read great literature.

  6. Don’t worry.

    Worry does no good. When you worry, you stress yourself physiologically, when you are already under stress to begin with.

  7. Grieve.

    No matter how good a change is, there will be something you’re leaving behind. Retiring means not having to work any more, but you lose your professional persona. This ambivalence – feeling both good and bad at the same time, or simply confused – is part of any change or transition. If you tamp down one emotion, you tamp them all down. It’s an immutable law. Be willing to be sad, so you can be glad.

  8. Don’t judge your emotions.

    Just let them be. The more you consider it bad to feel sad, the more you’ll fight it, and the more power it will have over you. We all prefer what’s called the “positive” emotions, but there are others.

  9. Hire a certified emotional intelligence coach.

    A certified EQ coach is trained to help you at the meta-level, which is what you need. At times of change and transition, you need to deal with many things – relationships and career and money and your emotions and life balance and your business and your kids.
When one thing changes in your life, it will affect everything in your life, and the scope involves more than a Career Coach, or Life Balance Coach, or Relationship Coach or Small Business Coach has been trained for.

The most important thing to deal with will be the emotions. In order to function and move forward, you need to manage your emotions and those of those around you, who will also have been affected. This falls within the wide scope of a certified EQ coach.


The best tool you can have for handling transitions is a high EQ. Tips are tips, but a tool is something you need to get the job done. Why use a kitchen knife when you could be using a power screwdriver?

Resilience, an EQ Competency

One of the EQ competencies, resilience is particularly important. Resilience means being able to bounce back from losses, rejections, and adversities while remaining hopeful.

The worse outcome of an adversity is to become bitter and cynical. Developing your EQ is a preventative measure, guarding your attitude and ability to enjoy your life in the future. You will learn how to weather storms on an as-needed basis!

Building your EQ means building your ability to keep “stress” from becoming “strain.”

Think of an expansion bridge. It’s built resilient (about to bounce) so when the wind blows, it won’t snap.

If it were rigid, the “stress” might turn into “strain” and it would buckle under the pressure.

See the difference? You want, need, and will always have “stress” in your life, but “strain” can damage you.

Where to Begin?
  1. Take The EQ Foundation Course. (

  2. Work with a certified EQ coach.

    You must work with someone trained in the field. You can’t “just” read about EQ. Taking a course is a necessary first step to acquaint you with terminology and to reframe what you already know, but then you must put these things into practice in real life. You will improve with feedback.

To Prevail

Last but not least, if you’re going through a major change, prepare to be a stronger person when it’s over – if you have developed your resilience.

“Adversity is another way to measure the greatness of individuals,” said Lou Holtz, American football coach. “I never had a crisis that didn’t make me stronger.”

In light of this, you might interview a potential coach to see what major crises and changes they have mastered. The “untested” are only talking theoretically. You’ll hear the difference, and you’ll be living the difference, so it matters.

This personal growth and triumph is the optimal result of going through change, but we all know people who cratered under strain.

Develop your emotional intelligence and your crises can make you stronger, not weaker. Get proactive. Give emotional intelligence a try!

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2004

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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