Change is a constant; it represents progress and forward momentum. Change keeps ideas fresh, innovative and creative. Change brings life.
One of the most challenging things I’ve faced as a positive change agent is people who are resistant to change. There are individuals who challenge any new idea or concept. In my work with Appreciative Inquiry, I have noticed that people with positive mindset will look forward to positive change, whereas those with a negative mindset or doubtful mindset will look for all the reasons why something won’t work. The latter group of individuals can’t seem to try something new or accept an approach unless they test it themselves. A common statement from these individuals is, “It is all great in theory.” This statement used to bother me; however, I have learned that this is one person’s perspective. It is important for me to understand the merits of their perspective and seeing how I may challenge their assumptions that may be preventing them from moving forward with positive change.
Here are three reasons why it’s important to challenge those resisters:
- People often get attached to the old way of doing things. Some people are threatened by new approaches and are concerned about how this change may affect them. As the facilitator of positive change, it is important for you to help these individuals acknowledge the old ways of doing things and also demonstrate how they can implement new ways which can improve their current reality.
- Some people need to see proof. Kendra Cherry, a psychology expert, wrote a fantastic article on about.com entitled “What is a Theory?” that challenges the statement “It is all great in theory.” She states, “A theory is a based upon a hypothesis and backed by evidence. A theory presents a concept or idea that is testable. In science, a theory is not merely a guess. A theory is a fact-based framework for describing a phenomenon. In psychology, theories are used to provide a model for understanding human thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.” Imagine if Thomas Edison stopped testing his theory of the light bulb; where would we be today? Theories need to be repeatedly tested in order to be considered principles to help explain the results or outcomes achieved.
Perhaps, it is the microwave mentality; people don’t believe in the concept unless they see immediate proof. However, some outcomes may be quick wins, whereas other outcomes need to develop over time. Actions need to be taken to implement the ideas brought forward.
Appreciative Inquiry is a road map of an ongoing process supporting positive change. This concept or approach has been tested and proven for over 30 years and has helped improve the businesses and organizations globally.
- Some people think they have tried something similar before and it will not work. It is important to emphasize that just because you have tried something similar before does not mean it will not work. You are not the same person you were when the last attempt was. Chances are the ideas were shelved from the last attempt. Let’s say the attempt was a year ago. The people of the organization and where the organization is, is not the same as a year ago. It is my hope that the people were developing themselves both personally and professionally. They have more confidence and competence because they have faced conflict, gained new knowledge, and lived through new experiences. The people or the culture of the organization may have changed too. The ideas presented way back when may have been before there time, therefore, it is definitely worth trying again. Who knows – it might be you who facilitates a major breakthrough.
What one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned that it is sometimes we just need to trust the process and let the theories unfold into results. There is an element of uncertainty and it is okay. Not everyone is okay with uncertainty, therefore, results are key. Positive change does not occur without positive action steps toward what you really want to see. Even though, you may have to adjust your actions along the way the results that you get may be better than you ever imagined. When you feel yourself resisting, step out of your comfort zone and challenge your resistance to change. It may be your greatest breakthrough.