The Challenge of Real Change

As consultants, we are often asked to work on change. Whether it’s changing a process or an organization’s culture, we expect and often get resistance.

Sometimes we are able to overcome this resistance. Sometimes we are not.

When we are not, it’s usually not for intellectual or rational reasons. We can and do make the logical case for the change we suggest. Indeed, we rarely reach an impasse where we are told that what we suggest does not make sense. But, change being okay at an EMOTIONAL LEVEL is another matter.

Emotion is the challenge of real change. It may take the form of feeling uncomfortable with a new process. Like being asked, starting tomorrow, to drive on the right side of the street, à la England. It can also take the form of feeling fearful about the unknown, summed up by the idiom, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”

All strategies for overcoming emotion based resistance start with recognizing and accepting that is what is going on. Once recognized, it’s possible to start soothing the emotions and reducing their contribution to resistance. For example, an emotion calming strategy might be to investigate the experience of others who have already implemented a given change — hoping for reassurance. Another emotional calming strategy might be to use mindfulness (or meditation) to help avoid the tendency we all have to “catastrophize” or start thinking about worst case outcomes.

Whatever strategy fits you best, it’s much easier to employ, if you recognize you’re tackling the foremost challenge to real change, emotion.

Please let us know if we can help…