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When Change Happens: Maneuvering Through The Unknown

La Taza Java Coffee HouseIn my last blog post, When Change Happens: Embracing the End First Before Starting Anew, our neighborhood coffee house changed owners. At first, the communication to the regulars who visited the coffee house is that the new owner would open in 4 weeks. I thought to myself that will go by quickly. Since my local grocery store is in the same shopping center, you could drive by often and see the sign on the shop’s door, “Opening First Week of June.” The first week of June came and no opening. The sign continued to read the same.

I shared earlier that the first transition to any change is embracing the end first. Secondly, we enter the unknown period, and with a lack of communication, it often causes confusion. We begin to question the information or lack thereof with “What’s happening?” People make assumptions when information is not communicated such as “There must be something wrong” or “There are delays because of X.”

Think about significant changes in your family life or workplace organization. You might recall the boss saying we are going to move offices by the end of the week. She gives an instruction “Start packing your things.” Two weeks later, your office supplies and files remain packed in boxes in a holding area, and nothing and no one moved. The only response you get “I don’t know when the move will happen. Be patient.” The negative impact when there is a lack of communication during a major change event is numerous. People naturally feel anxious, they chatter with gossip, and before you know it, the lack of solid information leads to chaos and confusion. Keep these transition strategies in mind.

  • Communicate clearly and often to diminish misunderstandings
  • Acknowledge an individual’s anxiety if they are struggling through the change
  • Encourage and reaffirm that you are all in this together
  • Discuss unmet needs or concerns due to the change

One day, I saw activity in the new coffee house. I stopped by thinking they may be open after all. The new owner, Corinna, greeted me warmly as I entered the shop. Clearly, they were not open for business. However, she took the time to welcome me and provide information on the delay. She assured another local community member visiting at the same time and me they were very near to opening their doors. Corinna wanted everything to be just right. She let us know the revised name, La Taza Java Coffee House, and it already looked and felt different inside. A new layout and different coffee beans and food product lines to enjoy. Corrina also indicated changes in how things would run from closing hours to holding special events and supporting activities for the local community and non-profit groups.

Wow! I felt relieved and excited for the new owner and the next rendition of our neighborhood coffee house. In the next blog post, I address the third transition, starting fresh and accepting the change.

 

Patricia M. Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

 

Note: La Taza Java Coffee House is now open in the Brookhollow Shopping Center in San Antonio!

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When Change Happens: Embracing the End First Before Starting Anew

Judy - La Taza 10 yearsI love visiting a local and family owned a coffee house around the corner from my home. For ten years, the owner, Judy built a community neighborhood gathering. We got accustomed to her morning smiles greeting us as we entered and often, she would introduce us to other customers. La Taza Coffee house provided a comfortable and very laid-back atmosphere. I attended many casual gatherings, met colleagues, and wrote many blog posts there. Surprisingly, Judy announced she was closing her doors but hoped to sell.

When a significant change in our life suddenly occurs, we experience a jolt. We might be in disbelief and quickly start to question. What’s going to happen next? How will it impact me? Will nothing be the same? Everyone experiences a transition when this type of change occurs.  For three months, Judy would keep her “regulars” informed about her plans. We were happy for her retirement and needed to travel the world. The neighborhood gathering place might come to an end. Judy didn’t have a buyer for the coffee house, but she was hopeful for prospects. It is not uncommon to first experience a need for closure before embracing the new change. When something comes to an end, regardless of whether it is a positive or negative event, we might experience sadness, anxiety, anger, grief, and even resistance to the change.

Everyone reacts to an ending differently and moves toward accepting the change at their own pace dependent on the closeness of the relationship and the likely impact. Why is this important to note? If you can recognize the signs of a family member, co-worker, or friend struggling to let go, you can help them by first acknowledging their emotions and experience. As the end of April approached, Judy and the regular customers expressed their feelings of sadness, shared their memories, and expressed their anxiety for what was still unclear about what would happen to the coffee shop. Every time I would visit, I saw fewer pictures on the walls, items beings removed, and the place becoming sparse. During the last week, Judy announced another neighbor purchased the store with the hopes of reopening in early June.

Keep in mind that for any change impacting a group, community, a business team, or family, requires that time is given to each person to process what will no longer exist. Ignoring this time could lead to individuals being emotionally stuck, refusing to let go of the past, and even resentful of the new change and could result in increased tensions, loss of customers, or replaying “this is how she did it.” Thankfully, Judy kept her customers and vendors informed. She honored them and provided time to say goodbye. She even marked the occasion with a fun closing party. We made it a family affair. I took my husband, and our little dog, Lucy and we attended a packed house of loyal friends, family, neighbors, tenants, and even new customers. This closing event supported Judy and helped many of us accept and let go of the La Taza we came to know over the years. Now, as we wait for the reopening of La Taza Java Coffee House, we see movement, and a sign reading “Opening soon!”. As I peak through the cotton curtains on the doors, I see physical changes to the store and menu changes. What will happen next?

Stay tuned for another blog post about what happens in the second transition to change.

Pattie Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

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New School, New Beginnings – Helping Your Child Navigate Changing Schools

school-bus-600270_1280Moving for both adults and children can be a very exciting time, but it can also be very stressful for a child who is switching schools. Schools will be back in session soon, and students will be flooding the hallways, optimism floating in the air for the new year ahead. If you have recently moved, and you have a child switching schools, this time, can be both thrilling and anxiety ridden.

I had to switch schools twice when I was a kid when my family moved. The first time, I started third grade at a new elementary school. It wasn’t as big of a deal because the school was in the same county as my previous one and in third grade, I adjusted quickly – I say this only because I don’t recall any terrible moments about starting at a new school.  The second time was a very different experience; I started eighth grade at a new middle school in a new county.

My experience the second time was not nearly as smooth as the first. Middle school is an awkward phase for most kids, and I felt unnerved walking through the doors on my first day of eighth grade. I didn’t know anyone, and as I observed the students around me hugging their friends and catching up on their summer vacations, I felt an immense longing for my old friends. I also was behind on the curriculum; I remember the first day of math class, the teacher gave a refresher of what they had learned the previous year and my old school had only briefly touched on the subject. I vividly remember on my first day, I had gotten lost trying to find my class and was late getting to the welcome back assembly. Once I did get there, I had to walk in front of all my new classmates to find a seat on the bleachers; I was so embarrassed about getting lost and being late that once I sat, I just started to cry.

The good news is I survived – it was difficult, but I think moving helped me to become more confident in new situations. So parents what can you do to ensure this transition is a win/win for everyone? Using a list written by GreatSchools Staff, I pulled the tips I thought to be the most helpful.

  1. Take a Trial Run. When you’re in elementary, a lot of schools, have a meet the teacher day before school starting. However, once students get older many schools stop doing this; therefore, speak to the office and see if you can arrange a tour of the school and a meeting with your child’s teacher. By doing this, your child will get a feel for their surroundings and what to expect which can reduce the child’s anxiety.
  2. Encourage School Involvement“. I support this because it wasn’t something I did. When I switched schools the second time, I was deeply unhappy about the move and resentful of my parents. Therefore, I recoiled from student activities and limited my social interactions with my classmates at my new school. Instead, I spent just about every weekend at my best friend’s house where I use to live which restricted my ability to meet and make new friends.
  3. Keep a positive focus“. It is crucial that you have an open dialogue with your child about what they are thinking and feeling about starting at a new school. The more specific, the better, that way you can work with them to generate solutions to ensure they have a positive experience.

My last tip is one I thought of myself that I wish I had had the second time around.

  1. Get a buddy. Reach out to the new school and inquire about a buddy system or a particular student who could show your child the ropes on the first day. Walking into a new school was scary, and I think if I had had a someone to walk with me I wouldn’t have been as scared.

Have a good weekend,

Abigail R.C. McManus

Apprentice

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Managing Conflict in the Face of Change

Change happens right? The change could be a long awaited and welcomed change or one that is unexpected chocked full of angst and conflict. We experience it in our personal lives and in our work organizations.

According to the works of Williams Bridges in his book entitled “Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change” it is all about managing the transitions. The show focuses on the 3 phases of transition each of us goes through when we know change is on its way. How do we maneuver and let go of the past? How do we move through the forest when we feel lost or confused? and finally, what does it really mean to have a new beginning?

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