Since the result of the Referendum a lot of my friends on facebook, twitter and in real life have shown (what I assumed) was an unfortunate lack of acceptance of the democratic process. The petition to re-run the referendum within impossible boundaries so that neither side could ever win (60% on 75% turnout!), the anger at leave voters, and the concern to the future.
However on reflection (and with reference to my business books) I realise this is natural and even has a theory attached to it. For those who don’t know it is the Change Curve (although as a mathematician I am duty bound to say that it goes up and down not in one simple parabola).
I love change, it’s a key part of my job and without it I would be bored witless. However, I know from the same job that many people struggle with change and it shouldn’t suprise me that people are struggling with this one. Why has it taken me so long… well things do – sometimes I need a rest and staying up all night to watch an election is not always the best thing to do!
So, onto the theory for those who don’t know it. (‘Designed’ by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross)
People are unable to process the result. They don’t know what to do, never expected or planned for it, and sit quietly (or loudly) in a corner. In democracy of course, there is also the shock that 52% of the country think differently to you – despite recent evidence to the contrary we are a very communal species. The stock market and the FTSE 250 are almost certainly still here. They don’t seem to be settling yet!
For when people move on from shock, comes the denial. It can’t be happening, there must be a way to stop it. Why is this happening to them? The perfect example is the call for a re-run of the referendum so that we can try again to get the right answer.
There seems to be a lot of people at this stage, and many more to go through it in the next weeks / months (and even years potentially). This is currently directed at the Leave supporters who voted for the change. Those of us, who sat quietly (or not so quietly) and shocked (see back to stage 1) those who voted Remain and were told on polling day that they were winning.
The lowest point on the curve for country moral and cohesion. If everyone reaches here at the same time we’ll have a problem but fortunately that is unlikely. Some people can stay here a long time, but if you find yourself down here know that there is almost always someone at the next two steps who will willingly help you get through it. Speak to them, seek them out and ask for help. Avoid people who use the phrase ‘get over it'(… if that was me in previous blogs or twitter you should probably ignore me too).
I know some Remain voters who are already here. An acknowledgement that what is changed is changed and that it can’t be undone. Of course with politics that isn’t always a guarantee and so people may take a while to get here, some may not need to get here and if the referendum vote is somehow changed or ignored I imagine that the Leave campaigners will immediately start on shock and follow the same journey.
Politics is of course different to business, and whereas you have options on the way with business – and (normally) a person with a plan who will push it through, or someone who has done it before – with Politics we don’t currently have the leadership or direction to help people reach this stage.
Integration to the solution, pressing forward suggesting ideas and solutions and a willingness to get involved. There may be changes even at this late point but those who have reached this stage tend to deal with them better than those who haven’t.
So why is this important? Everyone reaches the points on this graph/process at different times. Those who voted Leave should already be at the end of the it, but some will be at the beginning as well – especially as the PM has quit, and Labour are in turmoil. So lets help each other if we spot them in any bad places – knowing that these things exist does make it easier to spot them and I find that it helps me talk to people.
So, sorry it took a few nights’ sleep to wake up to the fact, and to actually engage my empathy – it’s sometimes a struggle. I hope you don’t consider this to be belittling or unfeeling, that is furthest from my intention. I only share this (with a little addedexplanation) because it has helped me in the past. Use or otherwise at you leisure.
– Right Angle