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Denial stage

 

Disciplines > Change Management > The Kübler-Ross grief cycle > Denial stage

Symptoms | Treatment | See also

 

In the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle, the second stage is one of blind denial. In order, the stages are: Shock, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Testing, Acceptance.

Symptoms

After the initial shock has worn off, the next stage is usually one of classic denial, where they pretend that the news has not been given. They effectively close their eyes to any evidence and pretend that nothing has happened.

Typically, they will continue their life as if nothing has happened. In the workplace, they will carry on doing their job even if that job is no longer required.

A classic behavior here is a 'flight into health', where previously-perceived problems are suddenly seen as having miraculously fixed themselves.

Treatment

You can move a person out of denial by deliberately provoking them to anger. Hold up the future (sympathetically) so they cannot avoid or deny it. Tell them that it is not fair. Show anger yourself (thus legitimizing that they get angry).

This, to some extent, is done on daytime TV shows where people in precarious situations are prodded into emotional explosions that make good TV and (where sympathetically done) may even be good for them.

See also

Coping Mechanisms

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying, Macmillan, NY, 1969

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