The Referendum Result – What’s your drug…..fear….anger…..smugness?

outside your comfort zone

What the EU Referendum result means for the UK only time will really tell. What is clear to me is that we have been given choice, of which, 73% of us who could choose actually chose to join the democratic process we were invited to join. In doing so 52% have chosen for us to leave the European Union.

Those are the bare facts. There will be other facts but they are all we need to know at this time.

Last week I published a post (A Referendum – A lesson in how to end up in conflict) in which I talked about the toxic atmosphere of the debate and how we can deal with facts but we get very, very attached to our opinions. We have done and will go to war based on opinions.

I started this with facts because as humans we are actually quite good at dealing with facts. Hopefully going forward we will lessen our ability to confuse opinions with fact.

So where are we now?

It’s fair to say that broadly 52% of voters (and therefore the country) are feeling that combination of happy and triumphant. There may also be a little of the uncertainty and “now I committed have I done the right thing?” feeling circling in other minds.

The other 48% are likely to be experiencing shock quite a lot of fear because, yes you guessed it, their fears may be realised. This of course may be expressed more readily as anger because that’s what we do best.

How we deal with victory or defeat is what defines us as humans

What does this mean for us as a whole?

Rather than reacting in the moment try stepping back and observing others doing exactly that. Listen to your colleagues, watch your friends and family. Take a look at your Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn feed and notice the reactions. I emphasise these are reactions, many of them, not considered responses.

Reactions I have anecdotes of so far are as follows –

Outbursts of sarcastic “what has the world come to” posts on facebook with plenty of like minded friends joining in the pity party. Let’s be clear when we do this we are setting the stalls out for continuing conflict which is rarely productive.

Partners storming around their homes shouting about the consequences to them, their jobs/businesses and their families. “We’re all doomed” type behaviour rarely helps anyone and it is worthwhile stopping and thinking about whether we are role modelling positive resilient behaviour traits to our children. Children learn more through role modelling than anything else.

An individual, so incensed by the “leave” vote, when driving in to work came across a road of houses with “Leave” banners and posters in the gardens. They felt so aggrieved they stopped their car, walked on to other people’s property and tore the banners down and stamped on them. Not surprisingly that turned into confrontation and conflict. It would wouldn’t it!!

How we react and respond will colour the relationships we have with those that voted differently going forward. How we react or respond now could move towards healing or more division.

What does this mean for the 48 percenters?

Moving on is not always easy for some. Some will need to sit in their shock,misery and fear for a while and if you do then I advise you to do just that. Let it settle. Denying it, repressing it or over expressing it will not help. It will only hurt others or ourselves.

Once we have let it settle here’s a few things to consider  

  • We were all given choice and we have exercised it. This is part of living in a democracy and the vote does not always go the way we wish it too. That is a fact.
  • Recognise that facts are more important than judgements or opinions. It’s the opinions that so often lead us into toxic conflict.
  • Look for the positives – change inevitably brings opportunity. We may not see it yet but it does. Experience shows that time and time again.
  • Like it or not and whether we voted in or out most of the country is stepping into the unknown. We have voted for something we cannot reliably predict. This means we are now out of our comfort zone and you know what happens when we are outside our comfort zone?…..personal growth. This is a huge learning and growth opportunity.
  • We have choice about how we view this. My choice will be one of optimism and growth. I will choose to be someone looking back in 5 years and finding the positives from the decision. You have a choice, to be positive and engaging or to be bitter.

What about the 52 percenters?

Quite a few of the “out” voters are expressing shock today. It’s as if we voted for it whilst not really believing it would happen. Those in this position may be ones who were feeling rebellious and just wanted to make a point. The underlying feeling with shock is most often fear and that means we already have something in common. We are out of our comfort zone together.

Those who are feeling happy and triumphant enjoy the feelings. Please, however remember, the way you express them and where you choose to express those feelings will colour the healing process between those who voted in and yourselves.

I am clear that whoever voted for what, none of us were voting for a divided Britain.

So what happens going forward?

The trading landscape is not going to change immediately and when it does it may so subtle that it makes near enough no difference. We do not know what an “out” negotiated deal and relationship with Europe looks like or feels like. It will take some time to form.

The markets, however, have reacted and they are reflecting the fear that comes with uncertainty.

Uncertainty brings stress and stress bring illness, absence and lost productivity just at a time when we can least afford it.

If we wish to negotiate a strong exit deal we need to do this from a position of authentic, confident economic strength. Not fearful, unhappy, uncertain tentativeness.

How we as an economy and a nation make the most of this will be defined by our relationship and our tolerance for fear and uncertainty. We need calm decision making.

Blatant advert Warning!!!!

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There are just 2 places left on that workshop. The next opportunity to deal with what causes us to attack posters on other people’s properties or shout at our children is September….that’s a long time to wait.


We are now in an environment that experts describe as VUCA. That stands for





We run a specific workshop to help teams and  individuals deal with working in these types of environments. It’s deeply developmental and may save you the cost of having a workforce that is failing to deal with uncertainty and fear in a healthy way.

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In summary, dealing with uncertainty requires calm decision making. Pulling together as a team and as a country to make the best of this requires an ability to let go of conflict and see the bigger picture and the longer term goal.

We made a momentous decision last night and it will affect our lives going forward. How it affects us is our choice and I, for one,  am interested in making the best of it……are you?



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