• Birgitta Sjöstrand

The Emotional Process of Change

What happens with our emotions when there is a big change?


The curve originated from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her work about the process of grieving. It was then adapted to process of change, John Fisher adapted it in his work on more extensive and numerous stages (anxiety, happiness, fear, threat, guilt, depression, gradual acceptance, moving forward and then a further dip…)


Reflect on changes you have experienced; how did you feel during the process?


The endings phase is the reaction phase - People say: "I don't know what to think about the change?"

The neural zone gives you resistance - "I think the change is a bad idea" Then comes the feeling of depression, being down in the dumps. When adequate time as lapsed, different time for different people, of course, we start experiment with thoughts: "What does this change mean to me and what are my options?" And it's a new beginning.

Finally we feel committed. "Now I know what I want and am prepared to do it."


Some people go through the curve quickly, for others it takes a long time. How long time does it take you normally? If there is a big change initiated by someone else? Truthfully...

Think about it.


I you are the person initiating change beware, and emphasise the need to move people through the curve and away from Depression – this stage is the most dangerous and is often where organisations lose good people if they get stuck in the depression stage on the curve.


Phase 1: Endings

Phase 2: Neutral zone

Phase 3: New beginnings

Think about, at each stage what will people feel, think, and importantly what will they say? Consider the behaviour and language they will be using, this will give you a good indication of where your people are in the process at any point in time.


Do you think differently about your change now?

#changemanagement #leadership #development #emotionalcurveofchange