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Bargaining stage

 

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

Symptoms | Treatment | See also

 

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

Symptoms

After the fires of anger have been blow out, the next stage is a desperate round of bargaining, seeking ways to avoid having the bad thing happen. Bargaining is thus a vain expression of hope that the bad news is reversible.

Bargaining in illness includes seeking alternative therapies and experimental drugs. In organizations, it includes offering to work for less money (or even none!), offering to do alternative work or be demoted down the hierarchy. One's loyalties, debts and dependants may be paraded as evidence of the essentiality of being saved.

Treatment

When people are bargaining, you should not offer them any false hope. Although there may be practical things they can do which you can offer them, never offer them something that cannot be fulfilled.

Sometimes the best you can do at this stage is point even more at the inevitable, even though this may well tip them into depression (which may well be a necessary move).

When they are in a bargaining mood, sometimes there are things you can offer them, such as support for change or new opportunities. In these cases you may be able to strike a win-win deal, where they get an improved deal and you get collaboration or some other contribution. In a business setting, this may include finishing off some important work before they leave and receiving a special bonus for doing so.

See also

Coping Mechanisms

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

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