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Poised for Workplace Change: The Art of Effective Posturing

Lost teammates. New teammates. Different job responsibilities, company objectives, corporate goals. New leadership. New management. New software.

So many ways to say the same thing: Change.

As a company that deals fairly exclusively in change, we get it. Every position we fill and every candidate we place is the catalyst for Something New. We understand how change can be scary, overwhelming, and hard to manage. And we also know it can also simplify, strengthen, and create amazing opportunities.

Most of the time, though, it’s a bit of all of the above. To make it work to your advantage, it’s all about posturing. Some of this is marketing, creative spinning, and cheerleading. And some of it is about your actual posture. And that’s why we’re here today.

Whether you are managing change in the workplace or your personal life, here are five ways to help you, and those around you, get poised to make the best of it.

1. Keep Your Chin Up

As Charles R. Swindoll so eloquently states, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” To that point, there’s no better ally during times of change than a positive attitude. Allow and forgive knee-jerk reactions when they happen, but teach yourself to take the space and time needed to be able to choose your desired reaction (and its hopefully positive consequence). Remember, the new situation may not be perfect, but there were probably things about the old one that weren’t that great, either. Keeping your chin up allows you to make better eye contact, which helps you connect to what matters.

2. Pull Your Shoulders Back

When we get stressed, our bodies tend to collapse around our ribcages, shortening our breath and signaling defeat. When these moments find you, and they will on occasion, invite your shoulder blades to come together and slide down your back. When your shoulders are open, your mind can be, too. You never know what new idea could settle in and change things for the better—and this includes feedback on the change you are introducing.

3. Slide The Corners of Your Mouth Up

Yup. Smile. Smiling, when genuine, promotes trust, helps people reach agreements, and reduces stress better than chocolate. Studies have shown that when our brains are under emotional stress, we cannot process new information. Not only that, creating a warm, welcoming, and positively charged environment optimizes learning, creativity, and productivity, all things that are crucial when navigating workplace change. It’s also been shown that if you speak with a smile, it naturally softens your tone—even if the listeners cannot see you.

4. Take a Deep Breath

For a process we need to do to survive, humans are actually pretty horrible at proper breathing. We tend to inhale and exhale too shallowly, which can lead to us feeling tired, sluggish, closed up, and shut off. Before you have to enter a difficult situation, try this breathing exercise, called Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing.” Find a comfortable seated position and start by holding the right thumb over the right nostril. Inhale deeply through your left nostril. At the peak of the inhalation, close the left nostril with your right ring finger and release your right nostril, exhale fully through that side. Continue in the same pattern, but start the inhalation through the left side this time. Repeat two or three times. This breath is said to bring calm, balance, and brain clarity. (Note, don’t do this before bed; it’s also said to bring as much stimulation as a cup of coffee).

5. Raise Your Hand

Change is scariest when people are faced with the unknown or they don’t understand something. Encourage folks to raise their hands and ask questions. If you are proposing change to a group of employees and no one has questions, do them a favor and start by asking a few yourself. Questions like “How will this affect you on a day-to-day basis?” and “What do you think of this idea?” may start the dialog you are looking for. Prepare yourself for the hard questions and answer them candidly and compassionately. This is a great way to inoculate your organization against speculation, rumors, and doubt.

There you have it, the perfect posture for change. What technique do you find most helpful?

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