Some change resistance is good. How about yours?
Q: I am change-resistant. I know it, but it doesn’t help. Once I’ve decided to change something, I enjoy the challenge. But I often resist with “it won’t work because…” How do I know when I am simply resisting change or have a valid concern? You can always point out what can go wrong, and the change resistant-person (e.g. me) truly believes he or she is correct in their objection. – Suzanne
A: You’re in good company, Suzanne! Things change fast these days, yet success is built on resisting change. Yes, you heard right; results come from stability, dependability, focus, and persistence. In other words, the *change-resistance* that keeps us on-track day in and day out. Trust me, Fortune 500 companies rarely get there by embracing change. They innovate once (or get lucky), grow, then do everything they can to keep anyone from creating change that might topple them. Just watch ExxonMobile embracing change around global warming…
Change is hard, physically hard. Our brains grow neural pathways when we learn. Change means creating new paths, PLUS actively resisting our past learning. It’s way easier to invent reasons not to change, so we often do.
You know you’re knee-jerk resisting when you start with objections. Your points may be valid. Maybe. But starting with “No” shows resistance. If the objections come rapid-fire, that’s an even stronger signal. On your third “yes, but…” you’re driving from habit. Realize it. Pat yourself on the back for realizing it. Then stop.
(Try a rubber band around one wrist. When you hear yourself say “yes, but…” snap the rubber band lightly to remind yourself to shift gears.)
Next, just listen. Inside, think, “yes, AND…” Outside, say “Tell me more.” Listen, nod Yes, smile, and take notes. Agree to nothing. Just listen. Inside, object to your heart’s content; go wild. Outside, nod, smile, and write. Then say, “I’d like some time to think about this. Thank you.”
You listened, now think. Write down your objections. On paper, you’ll often find them less daunting than you thought. Once you’re done kvetching, list the possible benefits of the change.
Now, stretch your imagination; write down three or four possible futures that could come from the change. Explore positives and negatives about each one. For example, “If we move, we’ll have more Chinese restaurants that deliver. That means more romantic evenings at home. But then, we’ll bloat from the MSG, so we’ll need to buy a treadmill…” Be humorous. You’re not trying to predict the future; you’re just shaking up your thinking.
After this brainstorming, decide if you agree with the change. If not, you’ve thought enough to build a careful argument. Rather than a seeming nay-sayer, you’ll be a thoughtful contributor to the discussion. If you decide you like the change, psyche yourself up for the challenge and give it a go, full steam ahead!
Change-resistance is fine, if your reasons are good. By letting your knee-jerk response signal Time To Think, you can choose when to keep the status quo and when to act. Either way, you won’t respond willy-nilly; you’ll make a good decision from careful deliberation.