“Nobody likes change!”
‘Nobody likes change’. I hear this statement occasionally and it’s often substantiated by ‘resistance is a natural human response to change’. While the latter is quite likely true but the former is questionable. Why? Any statements that claim to be true for everyone, no one, always or never should be questioned and critically assessed.
Change is always present. Many changes happen almost automatically, often without us even noticing. These are changes that we unquestioningly accept or that do not evoke strong emotions – positive or negative. We step into the changed situation without too much effort and can easily master the new ways of working. This can be the case with big changes also, which can happen in small steps such that you only see afterwards how the world has changed.
However, every now and then we have to deal with a change that demands effort and provokes emotion and resistance. This can happen when:
- we do not understand why the change is needed or why now
- we find it difficult to say goodbye to the old
- we see few benefits and feel little motivation for the new
- we have difficulty learning new behaviours or ways of working
- the change raises questions, concerns or fears
- we’re experiencing too much change all at once
Any change, big or small, involves saying goodbye to the current situation. Even if the current situation is not very positive, it can be comfortable. We know what to expect that can be hard to let go of. Stepping into a new situation means saying goodbye and embarking on an unclear journey to an unknown destination. That can feel uncomfortable or anxious.
As organizations, leaders, managers, and fellow human beings we have a choice: we can leave people to their fate and assume that they will make the journey alone or we can actively support them to get there.
If we choose the former, we must accept that questions and concerns can turn into active resistance, people may not be able to function in the changed situation or apply the new ways of working. With that comes the risk that we do not realize the success we had in mind. If we choose the latter, then we can ensure that people feel equipped and enabled for their individual change journey by involving, supporting, and leading them through.
If you’re interested in enabling the change journey, then follow my Change Notes (www.changenotes.eu) series. I’ll be posting about topics such as: the individual change process, resistance, personal choice, communication, conversations that matter, and storytelling. Let’s together explore the individual change journey and challenge some of the myths around change such as ‘nobody likes change’.