Effectively dealing with and adapting to change

Without change there is no progress

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Whether in your dental employment setting or in your personal life, change is inevitable although rarely easy. Therefore, we need to recognize that change is often needed for growth and for new opportunities. Without change, there can be no progress. If nothing has changed in the past five years, the environment is often stagnant. When one attempts to accomplish something not previously undertaken, the experience may be difficult.

When change occurs, responses often include statements such as, “I like things the way they are,” “This is the way we have always done it,” or “I wish they had just left things the way they were.” In order to effectively manage change, there are some strategies that may be helpful to adapt to change. Change means growth, which is usually healthy. However, even the best changes in our lives have often been accompanied with a degree of stress and anxiety. Even good change is often hard to deal with effectively and change is almost always met with resistance. The person who initiates change is usually unpopular — change breeds unfamiliarity, which often requires courage.

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As many people are not completely comfortable with the thought of incorporating something new, there are some physical and emotional reactions to change that may occur. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms so that they can be recognized and, if necessary, addressed appropriately. Some negative symptoms include — but are not limited to — nervousness, stress, fear, anger, depression, fatigue, guilt, or denial. However, there are also many positive reactions to change that can be very invigorating. These manifestations include greater optimism, camaraderie, happiness, increased energy level, a renewed sense of excitement, and an increased sensitivity to others.

Preparing for and dealing with change is important. Successful individuals are able to deal with change and recognize the positive effects that it can bring. However, be aware that you may encounter individuals or groups who possess attitudes that may hinder change. Some issues you should be aware of are fear of risk-taking, resistance and “push back,” loss of motivation, excessive anxiety, closed-mindedness, apathy, and projection, which can often result in comments such as, “Someone else can handle it.” You may also find yourself faced with the “I can’t” syndrome.

One of the most effective ways to deal with change is to discuss it with others. Seek dialogue with those who have recently experienced major change in their lives. They may be of support and assistance. Change will not always be stressful or painful. It is often helpful to focus on changes that have occurred and reflect on their smallness after the fact, as compared with how they appeared while experiencing the change. To facilitate change and be better prepared, get involved, seek assistance, expect mistakes, and take action to correct and focus on a positive outcome. Try to reduce the fear of risk-taking, communicate, and maintain a positive perspective. When dealing with change, it is also helpful to identify the changes you wish to make or the changes that will be made, whether you like them or not.

Try to embrace the process by listing the differences between the current scenario and that which is anticipated to exist when the change occurs. Attempt to project where you would like to be or where you will find yourself in the near and distant future. Identify areas that will be affected subsequent to the change in order to better prepare yourself.

With the progression of time, nothing stays the same. Thus it is best to accept the inevitable and work with change rather than to have it thrust upon you!


- Coaching Skills For Managers and Supervisors - Fred Pryor Seminars, 2005
- Balancing Act – Managing Emotions Under Pressure Bryant, Holly Dental Office Magazine – 2007
- Cornerstone: Building on your Best, Prentice Hall 2002 Sherfield, Montgomery and Moodey, Upper Saddle River, NJ
- Succeeding in the World of Work, 6th ed.; 1998, Glencoe/Mcgraw-Hill A division of the McGraw-Hill Companies, Kimbrell and Vineyard
- Interpersonal Communication Skills For Health Professionals, 2nd ed. Mcgraw-Hill, Cynthia H. Adams and Peter D. Jones, 2000
- Start Right, Stay Right…Lead Right, Every Leader’s Straight Talk Guide to Job Success – Ventura, Steve, The Walk The Talk Co., Flower Mound, TX 2008

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