Assessing our Resistance
• We hear bad news first and loudest, even when the
majority of the news is good. We have a tendency to
filter out immediately those aspects of the change
communication that is positive and go directly to
those aspects that are threatening. This is a natural
defense mechanism. We need to focus first on the
threat and assess it.
• Our reactions to situations are based on emotional
response and may never reach a "thinking" stage.
We are unable to think clearly or objectively about
the change if it has a high impact on us. It has been
reported that in some cases individuals are unable
to think clearly about news that is disturbing or
threatening for as long as a month. How many
times have you heard someone say, "I don't want
to think about it!" or " I can't think about it now.
It's just too much!"
• When we are threatened, we attempt to reduce loss
(fight or flight or tend and befriend). "Fight or flight"
(male response) and "tend and befriend" (female re
sponse) are natural and normal responses. They can
not be stopped. They will impact the way you
respond—anger, protecting family, finding alliances
and friends, leaving, and in other ways.
• We will resist change even when we are dissatisfied
with the current state. The current state, even if it is
not perfect, is understood. It presents less of a threat
to us than an unknown desired state and a difficult
• We will resist change when they are threatened. We
will do whatever is necessary to protect what is im
portant to us. In reality, most changes are not life-
threatening. However, we will behave as if they are
when they threaten our well being, job, professional
status, personal value, income, family, and other as
pects of our life that have a perceived "life threaten
• Feel more self-confident than reality justifies. We may
not understand our true position in the current state.
We may think that we do not need to change.
• We routinely question whether those who have
caused it understand the difficulty of the change.
From our perspective, we feel put upon. We cannot
believe that the sponsors of the change know what
we are going through.
• We will quickly classify rather than analyze the com
ponents of the change. We have a tendency not to try
to understand the true impacts of the change, but
rather quickly categorize them into groups that are familiar to us.
• We have a deep-rooted propensity to stereotype. Ste
reotyping allows us to classify what we see and hear
about the change without analysis or thought. It is a
rapid survival skill that allows us to rapidly size up
the change and its sponsors.
• We will use gossip as a natural response keyed to
survival. Gossip exists to give us early warning about
the effects of change. It is our informal communi
cations system. The less we know the more we will
seek out "the truth" through gossip. An old Amish
saying goes, "If a person believes a situation to be
real, then it is real in its consequences." Points out
that the circumstances do not need to be real to elicit
these responses. We just need to perceive them as
• Our emotional response to change is natural and
unavoidable. Everything discussed above cannot be
avoided. What can be changed is the debilitating im
pact it has on us.
To Be Continued