Shattering Myths of Resistance

July 13, 2011

by Linda Kennedy

Resistance is shrouded in darkness and dread by everyone – change leaders and every person impacted by change. Yet resistance is a natural and vital part of navigating successfully through change, regardless of the type of change. There are myths and half-truths about resistance waiting to be debunked.

Myths be Shattered!

Myth One: Resistance is BAD

Not true. It is one of several stages of transition that people naturally go through until “Your Change” is adopted. In fact, people are initially in resistance, not acknowledging, believing or acting as if “Your Change” will happen. “Your Change” is simply another proclamation or idea that will fade away if ignored. When people are resisting, it is a sign of progress. It means that people are not ignoring or pretending “Your Change” is not going to happen. They are fully cognizant that things will be different. At this time, their minds are fully engaged – you have their attention. Resistance is a sign of progress!

Myth Two: If “Your Change” is Sold Properly, There Won’t Be Resistance

People don’t buy and sell changes. Instead, they learn about the change, and experience the transition. Before change can occur, a personal choice to make “the change” takes place. Each person needs to understand why the change is necessary, comprehend what is occurring, and let go of the past to make their decision to move forward. Work with people to make their own informed decisions. Provide information. Answer questions. Commitment is needed, not salesmanship.

Myth Three: Resistors Just Need to Move On

People who become active Resistors, usually have reasons for not moving forward. People are hanging onto the past with full knowledge and awareness that change is or will be occurring. The reason they cling to the past is often something they value strongly will not be in “The Future Change”. Resistors can be an incredible source of information to help “Your Change” succeed because of what they see or don’t see.

For example, at a utility company, there were several pockets of deep resistance.  When the reasons were explored, it was about not being able to serve a special customer group – “The Little Old Ladies”.  They were concerned that the changes, while logical and efficient, would not allow them to provide the special services to this population when their furnace pilot lights were out or they were without heat due to storms. These people understood that big changes were necessary for the survival of the company and their jobs. Their resistance came from not wanting to loose a very special relationship and reputation they had for caring for the elderly and those in need. Once understood, Senior Leadership completely agreed, and modifications were made

These Resistors provided key insights into what was missing in the change plan and how to make it better. People usually resist for good reasons. Take the time to find out why. Their first hand experience will help make a change more successful.

Myth Four: Bringing People Together Will Only End Up as Griping Session – Avoid At All Costs!

One of the most powerful way people make decisions during uncertain times is to look around to find people like themselves. They look to see how these people are reacting and to make sense of the unknown or new. So rather than fearing meetings, especially large group meetings that include a two-way communication will help people adopt, support and commit to the idea sooner. These meetings allow forward momentum to be built. Involvement builds commitment.

Myth Five: Resistance Can’t be Managed – It’s Just Inevitable

While resistance is a natural part of going through a transition to accept and embrace “Your Change”, change leaders can significantly influence this process. If it’s not managed, the transition may or may not ever come to an ending.

For example, when working with a company that had made several large acquisitions, nearly every person who had been employed by an acquired company, always told the way stories of “their” acquisition. They were fully stuck in the past, some over 12 years ago. They had never move forward to become part of the new organization in spirit and commitment. What a loss of productivity.
Help people let go of the past and embrace “Your Change”. Effective Change Management makes a huge impact on people AND the bottom-line. As a leader, you have a huge responsibility in determining how effectively the change is led.


photo by: obertelo


About Linda Kennedy: Linda is the Principal in Linda Kennedy & Associates, a Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness firm that takes leaders from intention to action. She does this through a structured process that creates clarity, defines outcomes and develops custom action plans. What this means to you is quiet confidence, great leadership skills and results you can see. She can be reached at 866. 205. 8391 or linda@lindakennedy.biz


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