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8 Emotions to Change – How to Deal with Them

Any leader attempting change needs to understand is the emotions of change.

You cannot lead successfully if you do not understand every change has an emotion. Plus, if you don’t emphathise with those emotions – and, I’m not trying to sound dramatic here – you are either being cruel or ignorant as a leader.

So, how do you deal with the emotions of change. Well, let me share the emotion and offer a few suggestions.

8 common emotions to change:


Give information. People usually fear what they don’t know more than what they do. During seasons of change it’s important to increase the level of communication.


Allow time to adjust – even to heal. There’s been a loss. The biggest objection people have to change is usually the sense of loss, which fuels the emotion. You don’t get over this immediately.

Obviously, if a person can never get over it you may have to move forward without them. But, make sure you don’t move without them because you stepped on their season of grief.


Temper celebration when change is still hurting some people. Don’t slap those opposed in the face immediately. Of course, never say “I told you so”. That screams arrogance. Celebrate yes, but do it with taste when feelings are involved.


Give it time to see if it calms. Extend forgiveness where necessary. Allow people to express their anger without retribution. Anger is usually the result of unmet expectations. Don’t agitate even further by not following through on commitments made.

I’ve learned some people can’t move forward once they’ve gotten angry. They don’t know to move forward. But allow time to see if it’s just an initial, reactionary outburst.


During times of change attempt to be the king of clarity. Use various methods of communication. People hear things in different ways. Make sure everyone hears you or has an opportunity to it they are listening. (And some won’t)


To address this one you have to somehow replace the loneliness people feel with something they can enjoy even more. It will take time. Again, some won’t get there, but if the change is worthwhile, most people will eventual see some value in the change – especially as it relates to their personal values.

Bottom line here: Make good changes.


Recognize and acknowledge that some people will have a genuine lack of happiness about the change. That’s okay. Don’t force it. Don’t expect it. Give it time.

Sometimes giving them new roles within the change gives them relief from the sadness. But the best response here is to be patient with people. Sadness doesn’t heal under pressure.


Energize them with the vision. Let the vision drive their enthusiasm. That means you have to repeat the vision often. Sometimes daily.

And you celebrate the accomplishment of the vision more than anything else.

Check out my leadership podcast where we discuss leadership nuggets in a practical way. Plus, check out the other Lifeway Leadership Podcasts.

Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Jim Pemberton says:

    I’ve seen a lot of these. It’s worse if there hasn’t been a lot of change in recent years. Vision casting is important, especially when framing it in terms of a common goal that serves as an identity for the group. “This is who we are. We are the people who…” When challenges arise, those help establish particular goals that help to stay focused on the visionary goal. This propels change. When that is understood by the group, it’s easier to get people to buy into the change in a positive way.

    But there is still going to be these emotions that result from change. I would also add stress and anxiety to this list. Change comes with periods of uncertainty and changing roles. In my current area we say that things are going to be “clunky”. There are people who may become stressed contemplating new tasks to possibly add to old ones or worrying over the “clunkiness” that still needs to be ironed out. If they can be included in being a part of the “ironing out” process, this can help alleviate this stress. They may also need reassurance that the team will be there to help with any additional work until people get settled into new roles.