Change Curve

A powerful model used to understand the stages of personal transition.

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I try to understand at which stage the person is and adapt my style: listening and letting the person vent during denial and anger - don’t be tempted to jump in and fix it- just listen; helping them see how things will look at the confusion stage; and brainstorming ideas, solutions at the acceptance stage.

When to use

Change Curve?

How to use it?

The Change Curve helps  predict what the person will go (or has been) through, so that you can help them make their own personal transitions, and make sure that they have the help needed.

  • Denial: When someone first faces an upheaval (loss, getting fired, losing an important relationship), it’s normal to be in denial and think, “This isn’t happening.”, feeling shocked or numb. This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion. It’s a defense mechanism. The style to use here is to simply listen… don’t be tempted to jump in and fix it, don’t offer solutions, and don’t agree with them, just listen. Watch as they move to next stage, where again, you just listen. This can take some time, but you need to let them vent. Patience is often the key here!

  • Anger: As reality sets in, the coachee will tend to feel the pain, feeling frustrated and helpless. These feelings later turn into anger. He/she might direct it toward other people, a higher power, or life in general. To be angry with a loved one who died and left the coachee alone is natural, too.

  • Bargaining: During this stage, the coachee dwells on what he/she could’ve done to prevent the loss. Common thoughts are “If only…” and “What if…” He/she may also try to strike a deal with a higher power. This is the time of emotional support.

  • Depression: Sadness sets in as the coachee begins to understand the loss and its effect on his/her life. Signs of depression include crying, sleep issues, and a decreased appetite. The coachee may feel overwhelmed, regretful, and lonely. You'll probably hear sentiments like: ‘What am I supposed to do?’, or ‘I am not sure of any of this’. The style here is to start giving pointers, start directing slowly and give some context around the way things will look. It is now your role to ‘sell’ the benefits of the change processes, people, future.

  • Acceptance: In this final stage of grief, the coachee accepts the reality of the upheaval. It can’t be changed. Although still feeling sad, the coachee is now able to start moving forward with his/her life.

Where to find it?

You can​ find the Change Curve and many other coaching tools on the GoMasterCoach Toolbox.

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