Tag: Technology

Making Use of Unwelcome Change

Pre-covid I thought I knew as much as there was to know about change, though I have been accused of not having spontaneity. Never mind! It doesn’t take spontaneity to move from a small town to a big city or from one country to another. It takes nerves and planning, which has been key to my ability to insert change into my life and then manage it, come hell or high water.

And even the changes I did not drive such as a seemingly shift in societal norms the world over or a personal loss, I’ve somehow managed to stay in charge of my experiences to a certain degree, using my resolve, though I have learned along the way that grief doesn’t give a toss about resolve.

Admittedly, getting my head around change has not been easy, but it has been doable, if it meant somehow moving forward.

A former boss of mine used to say, “if you don’t do something to turn your life inside out for growth and development, something will happen to spur you on.” I took her at her word.

But here is the thing about change, it doesn’t always make clear growth opportunities, even when you have spearheaded the change. On the contrary, most times, particularly after a failure it suggests dead end after dead end.  Following a loss, which happens without warning, this is often the case, too.

Take Covid for example. For three years now, we have been waiting for this master of disaster to pack up and leave. It hasn’t and who knows if it ever well; it just keeps metamorphosising, throwing more blockades in the way. What now?

Acknowledge it, learn to live with what you cannot change, make the best of it, and change what you can, we are told repeatedly. Though it sounds crass, this way of life has worked for many of us over the years when we face seemingly insurmountable challenges brought about by change through no making of our own.

So why does it feel so much more challenging now? It could be the fast and furious nature of the change on a global, national, local, and personal scale. It is constant and tends to rob us of feelings of certainty which we need on a primal level to feel safe and well. We are living in uncertain times.

“The only thing that is certain is change itself.” says Anj Handa, founder of Inspiring Women Change Makers and guest of UIO’s How to Use Change for Betterment. That’s hard news, even if we have known this on some level all along. But as it is too close for comfort now all the time, thankfully, there are ways to make use of all unwelcome change.

Alongside accepting it as constant, Anj and I talk about the importance of being flexible and considering the ripple effects that offer positives, if you will. For example, though it was shattering to be outside of the US when I lost my father, one thing that the horrible experience gave me was the comfort that far more people attended his service online than would have ever fitted into the small church he loved so much. He was a great man and deserved a great homegoing.

This has been the case for others too, including the growth of online courses to support mental and emotional wellbeing, as well as marriage and other important causes and issues, for example.

Another way to use unwelcome change is to recognise imposter syndrome and send it back wherever it came from. Often after experiencing a challenge at school, in sports, at work, in our personal lives, we doubt our abilities. I see it time after time when a star athlete, for example, has a bad game, and is moved out of prime position.  Imposter syndrome creeps in. Only when they look for lessons learned and build upon those and go back to their own head and get the rest of us out of it, do they rise again.

Anj points out that even weighing in on an important conversation can be daunting for many people, especially young people, triggering imposter syndrome. Take advantage of technology and write a blog and if this feels too scary, choose an alias.

In a similar vein, when dealing with a change that causes conflict, use emotional correctness when speaking, whether voice to voice or through your writing. Anj explains that this means taking a viewpoint that doesn’t shame or upset people.

This is not always easy when your viewpoint differs from another, but the point is choosing correct language and delivery can be the difference in getting something achieved rather than being misunderstood. Hang on to who you are, no matter how tempting it is to react.

Finally, no need to go at it alone. When change is overwhelming, find a support network and develop your own coping strategy, a self-care plan if you will. If nothing suits, start your own group like the teenager who started Teen Grief Sucks.  And if this is not an option, it always feels good to help others—a neighbour, a friend, a stranger. The idea is to keep moving ahead.

While we can’t predict the future, we can accept that unwelcome change, as well as some welcome, is a sure shot.  For more information on making use of unwelcome change, check out How to Use Change for Betterment.

The Right To Remain Silent Or Not

You have the right to remain silent. Actually, you don’t unless you are in a sticky situation in which you have been read your rights, or are in extreme circumstances that risk invading your privacy, although there are some personal situations such as rape, bullying and so on that require speaking up, even if they are private.

Otherwise, silence, when misused, preserves atrocities such as the ones above not to mention the likes of apartheid, slavery, xenophobia. It also breaks deals, starts wars, ruins marriages, separates families and so on. In addition, the misuse of silence can lead to both physical and mental-health problems.

Let me be clear: this is not about freedom of expression in the name of hate. No one has a right to do that, but we all have a right to speak out in the name of healthy resolution.

If you have ever hung up on someone, had it slammed down on you or ignored important correspondence, evaded phone calls, or stewed on the receiving end of the silent treatment, then you get my heart-hammering, pulse-racing drift. This is anything but a healthy resolution.

It is no surprise then that silence is anything but golden at times such as these. So why then do so many people resort to silence in the face of conflict, or difficult or awkward situations?

I know people who would not speak up about poor service in a restaurant, a hotel, any place, or to a service provider, even if their life depended on it. Then there are some who won’t open their mouth in a potentially contentious situation at work or at home until it’s gone too far. Then they fly off the handle.

Now that is the other side of silence, which can also lead to health hazards and a dead end. So, how do we exercise our right to speak up? There are some simple measures to take, but why do so many people misuse silence?

Many researchers agree that fear is one overriding factor that drives people to silence. Whether it is fear of isolation or rejection, fear of simply being misunderstood, or fear of negative consequences, most people would rather witness or stay in an untenable situation than speak up.

Furthermore, some of us think our opinion doesn’t count or nothing will change anyhow, or worse yet, we will be labelled as a difficult person, even if we don’t come waving a red flag. So, why bother?

It’s simple. There are times in life when silence is not an option. Over the last five years, I’ve had a lot of experience in the area of speaking up. A few years ago when my mother-in-law fell ill, I found myself speaking up all the time; then again, a few years later, when my own mother got sick; and now, on behalf of my father.

To this end, I have learned a thing or two about speaking up:

  • First, it’s futile to pitch a fit, have a temper tantrum and so on. Best to stay focused on the issue. That means ignoring personal attacks and not handing them out either. Think of them as distractions. In a recent health-care situation, I listened to a group of patients consistently attack the provider over and over again, and then admit to themselves that nothing would ever change. Sure enough, weeks later, nothing has changed. All the complaints were attacks on character, rather than focusing on the relevant issues. And the few relative complaints were lost in rage – the other side of silence – which likely lead to a dead end. Best to stay on an open road.


  • Next, I try to remember my responsibility to communicate and remind people of theirs if necessary. Whether a personal or professional situation, people have a right and a need to know what is going on. Recently, while making a connection in a busy airport, I rushed to the gate to find that my flight had been delayed. The gate agent remained silent until a couple of us gently reminded her that people had a right to know what she knew, even if her announcement was inconclusive.


  • Also, I’ve learned to consider the incentive for communicating, even if fear is threatening to engulf me, or breaking the silence is the last thing I want to do. Often when it comes to talking to a health-care provider, for example, I take a deep breath, air out my dirty laundry on paper and put it aside until I can call or send a correspondence, thus focusing on the issue. Never mind the rest. The person on whose behalf I am communicating stands to gain if I succeed. But if I don’t, my loved one might lose out.


  • Another tip is to sidestep the red tape; don’t get caught up in it. Again, in a recent situation, I was told that the company’s policy prevents staff from emailing or responding to my emails, which is as red as red tape gets since I am in England and the other party is in Georgia, USA … not to mention that we live in the Technology Age. Anyhow, whether this is correct or not doesn’t absolve the company’s responsibility to communicate and my right to receive some communication. Thus, it has occurred to me to toss the tape aside, at least for now, until there is time to unravel it. In short, all I need to know is how we will communicate moving forward. That’s the only thing that matters.

Never mind what I think of the policy, the bottom line is that sometimes silence is simply not an option.