end of train tracks

Last week we wrote Take Small Steps and talked about how small steps taken consistently over time can lead you to your goals faster than big steps taken from time to time.

There are benefits to moving slow, as slow change is less likely to evoke resistance from inside of you and from those in your world. Slower, more consistent change over time can decrease others’ fear that you are changing, things are out of control, they are going to lose you, etc.

Think of it this way…

Systems—families, workplaces, and circles of friends—are each a bit like a mobile. Each person has their place on the mobile and they all relate to one another from this place.

When someone changes, it’s like they’ve moved on the mobile and the mobile starts to rock. As you might imagine, that rocking can freak people out (even if the rocking is because of a change that everybody agreed was the right thing to do.) And, using this image, as a person starts to change, everyone can start to yell at them to get back to their place on the mobile, out of fear.

We see this all the time in business. For example:

  • Someone gets the skills their boss has wanted them to get and then they’re told that they are stepping out of line when they start using them.
  • Someone is hired to be a change agent and then told they are offending people by pushing for change.
  • Someone with a weight problem focuses their efforts and loses weight and suddenly people are buying them sugary treats.

It’s part of being human. And, it gets in the way.

So, here are three things to do to manage the reactivity and resistance that can occur when you decide to change:

  1. Talk to the people who will be most affected by the change and get their buy in that this change is a good idea.
  2. As you start to see change, watch for reactivity but don’t go back on your efforts. Just go forward a little more gently, and remind them that this is the agreed upon change.
  3. Get support of a coach or ally who can help you continue to move forward when others are reactive. Sometimes all it takes is breathing and comforting yourself when others react. While it’s simple to describe, it can be challenging to soothe yourself in the face of disappointing others.

We are here if we can be helpful. It’s hard to do this alone.