Resistance To Change

Most resistance to change is emotional, not rational. Try the following:

Fold your arms in front of your chest. Now take them apart and fold them the other way.

What does it FEEL like? Uncomfortable?

What do you want to do immediately? Change back to your previous way of folding your arms. Why? Because it FEELS uncomfortable.

It is the same with any change process. It is the emotional part, the discomfort, that people resists. More often than not, it is NOT on a rational level.

When dealing with resistance to change, most people focus on the following thinking pattern:

ANALYZE - THINK - CHANGE

But people don’t change that way. The thinking pattern in a change process is:

SEE - FEEL - CHANGE.


People Don’t Always Resist Change

This is a common misperception. We don’t have a natural resistance to change. Yes, we have a natural resistance to things that makes us feel uncomfortable. But not all changes make all people feel uncomfortable.

If you win a $10 million lottery today, you will surely make some changes in your life. Will you resist it? I don’t think so.

So, the bottom line is that people DON’T resist change if they believe that there is something in it for them.

The first question, people usually ask themselves during a change process is, “How will this effect me?”

If you can answer that question on an emotional level, you have won the battle. If people believe that it will influence them positively, they will embrace the change.


How To Deal With Resistance to Change

Let’s go back to the “arm folding” exercise you did earlier. What did you do the second time that you did not do the first time? You probably looked down at your arms and became conscious of what you were doing. The first time you did it automatically. The second time, you were aware of what you were doing.

What did you became aware of the second time? You became aware of what you were doing the first time. Only then could you make a decision to change…”maybe I don’t need to change or maybe I do”

So we can only change, once we become aware of what we are doing. We call this…ENDINGS

You got a glimpse of the new way (folding the arms another way). We call that…NEW BEGINNINGS

When you let go of the old and tried a new way, how did it feel?

  • Awkward
  • Wrong
  • Uncomfortable

This is called…TRANSITIONS

It is during this time of transitions that you need to create a new environment. This is an environment in which discomfort, awkwardness and mistakes are allowed.

It requires not just an intellectual shift, but an emotional one as well.

It is very easy for people to fall back into their old ways of doing things. Between “Endings” and “New Beginnings” is where it’s very uncomfortable and awkward.

To “let go” of the “Endings”, people need an environment where they can deal effectively with their fear, discomfort and insecurity.


The bottom line

You need to change the way you lead your employees if you want to deal with resistance to change effectively.

If you keep on doing the same things as a leader, your employees will probably keep on responding the way they did in the past. The end result is that you will keep on getting the same results.

This new way of leading, should support an environment of trust, openness, support, accountability and high energy.


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Hi, my name is Derik Mocke, The Energizer.

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