1 becomes 2 – The Stages of Change
Having reflected on this idea for a while, I’m writing this post during some rare, precious quiet time on a family break over the long Easter weekend. Over the past two months, I have found it fascinating to watch our 23 month old Ethan adapt to having his 2 month old baby brother Huw around. Whilst working at IECL we were often helping leaders transition to changing circumstances and observing this transition has really helped me appreciate the stages of change.
Here I reflect on it using Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change model with some photos documenting the journey!
Pre-contemplation (No intention of changing behavior) – I vividly remember the day we introduced Ethan to Huw, complete denial that this baby boy was his little brother. We tried all the tricks paid forward from friends, including giving Ethan a present from Huw and picking a present with Ethan to give to Huw….he was not interested at all in welcoming a baby brother to our family unit.
Contemplation (Aware the change exists but with no commitment to action) – The next morning I went to Ethan’s cot, took him to the lounge to play whilst baby was still asleep. When Huw started crying Ethan looked deflated that the baby was still around, was he really here to stay?
Preparation (Intent on taking action to address the change) – Over the coming weeks Ethan would acknowledge the baby with a gruntled ‘baby’ with a pointed finger. He would start to lie next to Huw, but no looking at him, whilst Huw loved looking at his big brother (maybe memorised by the blonde Afro?!).
Action (Active modification of behaviour) – As Huw has started to be more alert and make cute cooing noises Ethan has started to show some affection towards him with eye contact, bounces, kisses, cuddles and tickles. He can be quite heavy handed so we have to watch him!
Maintenance (Sustained change, new behaviour replaces old) – I don’t think we’re quite at maintenance yet as Ethan has to be in the right mood for Huw cuddles. Sure there will be some relapses along the way with a brotherly love/hate relationship!
I’ve taken the following lessons from this which I thought may be useful to others facilitating a change process:
- Patience – people have their own pace for chance, quick expectations and a forced timeline might not do any favours
- Empathy – change is hard, try and walk in the other’s shoes and feel some empathy rather than getting frustrated. It helps if you’ve been there too 🙂
- One size doesn’t fit all – What motivates one person to change may not work for another.
- Acceptance – accepting where people are at in the process and understanding that relapses are very likely!
To wrap up, observing Ethan adjust to Huw reminded me that we need to be patient when expecting people to change habits, whether it be to an agile working environment, virtual team, quitting smoking or starting a meditation / exercise routine. Relapse is almost a certainty as we re-wire those neural connections to a new normal.
Any one working in change / going through a change themselves love to hear any other learning that may help others.