Understanding the Faces of Resistance

Recently I gave a presentation titled,

"5 Simple Steps to Engage Even Your Most Skeptical Employees In Change, So You Can Create a Strong Foundation for a Positive and Developmental Work Culture"

As I went through it, I myself was struck again by the necessity to understand and consider human nature when we are trying to influence our co-workers and employees (i.e. fellow human beings.)

We were talking about understanding the nature of human resistance to change, particularly at work when trying to make positive change in work processes or culture.

The Faces of Resistance

The point that struck me as fresh again happened when we talked about what is behind what I call "the faces of resistance", such as:

  • Skepticism/ Seen-it-All: 'Why should I believe you? Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm going to be here picking up the pieces long after you're gone."
  • Cynical/ Non-trusting: "I don't want to act like a I care, because I cared once and felt like a fool when I believed in you (or another leader) and you didn't deliver as promised."
  • WIIFM?: "Will I be forgotten once we accomplish this? Not that I want to be put on a pedestal but I'd like my contribution to be acknowledged. And I want you to understand and acknowledge why my contribution means something to me."
  • Agenda/ Grievance: "I feel like I've been wronged in the past and haven't been heard. No one has noticed or when I spoke up, no one said they were sorry. And I'm going to make you miserable til you hear it"

All of these have very human concerns underneath them. As long as someone "feels" something about what you are doing, you have something to work with. I think it is the sign of a good leader to strive to look underneath these seemingly insurmountable reactions and work them through.

You can say people need to grow up, let it go and get with the program. I'm reminded of what I added to the bottom of this slide in my presentation:

"Like none of us have ever felt anything like this..."

What are some things you have learned about dealing with the faces of resistance?