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The world has changed. That has created a lot of uncertainty for many people both personally and professionally. As business psychologists we, here at Bloojam, understand people and behaviour and are privileged to share our expertise with others to add some value at this challenging time.

In this 2-part blog we thought that it might be helpful to share some behavioural theories and models for you to bear in mind when considering your own response, and that of those around you, to the current situation:

Behavioural Types and Traits
Ok, so this is a massive topic that is difficult to summarise succinctly, but if there’s one rule of human behaviour it is that everyone is different. That remains true, perhaps even more so, at times of pressure, tension and uncertainty.

For instance, many psychological theories and models of personality include some measure of introversion / extroversion. This article provides an interesting take on how introverts and extroverts may respond differently to changes to the way we are working currently.

Similarly, many psychological theories and models will have some measure of optimism versus pessimism. Some of us will be much more likely to assume everything will turn out well, whilst others will be more likely to worry about worst case scenarios, however unlikely.

The take-away here is that it helps to remember that people may be very different to you and to each other in how they respond to this crisis; we need to consider, respect and adapt to these differences in order to take care of people and get the best from them. For example, don’t assume that a colleague is unaffected by the current situation just because they are not phoning you every five minutes. Some people will feel the need to share and discuss their concerns, others will not. Check in with all of your team regularly. Ask them how they and their families are and take time to really listen to their replies. There’s no requirement to offer solutions. Acknowledge the uncertainty and concerns that other people have. Just listening, really listening, will be much appreciated. The old adage ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is very true indeed there is lots of research that supports this in different contexts.

The Change Curve
Because everyone is different, each person will have a different response to what is going on at the moment. The change curve is a great model to use when considering your own response to change and how that might compare to others around you. There are 4 stages (Shock, Anger, Resistance, Acceptance) and everyone experiences the curve differently, for example some bounce between stages and back again, while others may go slow and steady through each stage. Using the language of the model to have open conversations with colleagues will really help everyone to understand themselves and their colleagues much better. However, do be careful not to appear to follow a check list and to make sure that the conversation flows in the right way.

Personal Resilience
Different people see situations differently. For some, the current situation will be full of opportunity and hope. Remember that the last recession saw the birth of businesses such as Uber, WhatsApp and Groupon. For others, change is a harbinger of doom and in the current circumstances it is easy to see why some people might feel like that. Some people give up at the first sign of a struggle, others will persevere. Appreciating that an individual’s ‘well’ of resilience may differ in depth to the next person is important, as is appreciating that people will draw on different sources to maintain their resilience. Take this free questionnaire from renowned experts in psychological wellbeing, Robertson Cooper, to find out your resilience profile.

In Part 2 we’ll look at the importance of understanding other people’s motivations and the part that motivation has to play in how an individual might be experiencing the current challenges.

Jim Bloomfield is a Director of Bloojam Consulting with 20 years’ experience of using business psychology to develop salespeople and leaders. He is a member of the Association of Business Psychology (ABP) and the British Psychological Society (BPS) and has successfully helped some of Britain’s best-known businesses to exceed their sales goals.

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