“Change is constant” is a phrase that has passed through the ages. We have all experienced some sort of change in our lives – from new schools to different jobs – we all live in a changing world. Some changes, however, can be harder than others. For example, when there is a major change at work that directly affects either our employment or day to day responsibilities, it can be hard to maintain our composure. However, in these periods of major change, it is so important keep composure and move forward.

When we experience major change in our life, our brains go through a series of different emotional and behavioral cycles. There are hundreds of different theories on this, which I won’t go into great detail here, but essentially our brains go through phases of denial, anger, exploring, and acceptance over a period of time. During these phases, emotions are high as we attempt to assess how we feel about the change and what our actions will be as a result of the change. This can be especially true during a layoff.

So how do you maintain composure during a layoff?

There are multiple vantage points during a layoff. Those who are transitioning out, those who are staying, the managers who are delivering the news, and the executives who made the final decisions. During this time period, regardless of your vantage point, maintaining composure is key. From each position, it is normal to feel upset about what has happened, however it is how you use this energy moving forward that will dictate how the situation unfolds and ultimately the outcome. For your employees, there are two key positions.

  • For those experiencing the change of transition out, the key is to help them focus on the future. Emotions will be high and fear of the unknown will begin to set in. Helping them control these emotions and energy, and focusing on looking towards the next chapter is important. Instead of focusing on the negative of the situation, look at the future and the positives. Perhaps this change gives them the opportunity to change careers and follow their passion. There are many possibilities, however its important to focus on the positive changes and not allow others to get caught in the negativity.
  • Though the change of losing your job is difficult, those who remain after a layoff have just as big of a change to work through as well. During a layoff, it is very common that those not selected may inherit responsibilities of individuals that have been let go. In some cases, the company may be going through a complete change in direction, and positions could change dramatically. For those who remain, it is imperative that you help them see the positive and the path forward. Those who stay are the future of your company and their experience during this time dictates your company’s morale and ultimately your company’s reputation.

Maintaining composure during times of change can be difficult. It can be easy to focus on the negatives during times of change. However, in order to keep a focus on the future and move forward with the change, we have to keep an open mind and a positive attitude – not just for us, but for everyone around us. Following are some quick tips to help you maintain your composure and show the world a positive attitude:

  1. Think globally. Try to think beyond how this change is impacting you, and think of how it is impacting the rest of the company. Those who are making the decision, those who had to deliver the news, those who are leaving and those who are staying.
  2. Take a breath. Taking the time to stop and breath will also give you the time to think about your reaction to a situation before responding.
  3. Keep an open mind. Keep an open mind about the future of possibilities that lie in front of you.
  4. Think positive. How you react to a situation will dictate the outcome.

Keeping composure during these times not only helps you, but keeps the focus on the future and the possibilities that lie ahead.

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