Volume 134, July 2014: Change and the Power of Resistance

Keyzine: An E-zine for Leaders about the People Side of Business

This is a monthly electronic magazine for anyone who wants to be a better leader, coach, facilitator, or simply, to tune up their people skills. It is a complimentary publication, devoted to the next evolution of Quality Thinking.

Publisher: © Key Associates, 2014 ISSN # 1545-8873

“People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.” – Peter Sholtes, The Team Handbook

Perception of change differs depending on whether the change is chosen or imposed. Often, people are not afraid of the change itself, but the loss of:

  • Identity
  • Independence
  • Reputation
  • Time
  • Comfort
  • Resources

When you examine the answers to these questions, you will see the following themes:

  • Most change is perceived as both loss and gain.
  • For most people, the initial response to imposed change is reactive and negative in nature – a “push-back.” Feelings range from shock (“I can't believe this is happening”) to suffering (worry, anxiety, insecurity, even grief).
  • After the initial negative reaction – which appears to be resistance – there comes a “creative” phase, where people have a choice and their energy can be mobilized in a number of ways. At this point, change agents and leaders have opportunity.

The eventual response is often positive, coming to resolution and acceptance. But it takes time to get to that turning point.

To duck resistance is analogous to ignoring the back draft of a fire. Learn from the resistance, but concentrate on the Doers.

Practice Point

  1. Ask the person who resists to state his objection(s).
  2. Honor its expression. Make it okay to resist.
  3. Explore it (and learn). What/How not Who/Why.
  4. Rework your agreement with this person. Find a common objective.
  5. Thank this person and move on.


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