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Overcoming Change Aversion

“Every organizational system has its own natural immune system whose task it is to resist unfamiliar, and so unrecognizable, signals. That is not necessarily bad.” ― William Bridges

Imagine a strong gust of wind interrupting your sunny day. As a reflex, you lean in against the chilly air as you move forward. This is because our natural reaction to change is to resist it. This isn’t an act of protest or spite – resistance is to be expected. We attempt to find balance during a time of uncertainty.

However, just like leaning-in to a gust of wind, persistent resistance to change can lead to unhappy consequences (like falling over, face first.) 

How Resistance Affects the Change Process

Change requires collaboration. For better or worse (and whether you mean to or not), your resistance to change can impede the progress of others – even if you try to keep your change aversion a secret. 

Having a change aversion while holding a leadership position will influence those who follow or report to you. Your teams’ loyalty to you may be a barrier to their own enthusiasm, growth, or adaptation within the change process. 

How Resistance Affects You

Resistance requires effort – it’s stressful. Change aversion can cause confusion, anxiety, and can leave you feeling overwhelmed, or even angry. If your aversion to change is preventing you from fulfilling your responsibilities – and you don’t take initiative to address your hesitancies – you may tarnish your reputation as a reliable colleague. 

Remember, organizational change is not something done to us or for us. These changes are done to improve the organization’s functioning and effectiveness – it’s not personal; meaning we can separate our identity from the changes and attend to our needs without undermining the change. 

How You Can Overcome Your Aversion to Change

If you’re persistent in your resistance to change, ask yourself why? A clear answer to this question will help you navigate the change process and articulate your perspective when addressing specific issues:

  • Do you understand your role in the change process? If you’re confused or overwhelmed by what is being asked of you – tell someone! Change leaders and partners can offer advice to get you prepared for your role or suggest resources for getting the job done. Getting clarity on your expectations can help you feel more confident going forward. 
  • Do you have a problem with the change process? If you’ve identified risks or flaws in how change is being implemented – tell someone! Don’t miss an opportunity to share your perspective, especially if the success of your teams is on the line. 
  • Do you just like things the way things are? If you need to be convinced to make a change – tell someone! You deserve to understand what is achieved by making the change, and how it serves your mission and values as a state employee.  

Knowing what you’re avoiding or hesitant about will help you direct your energy towards a helpful solution. Ultimately, honest communication can help you (and others) embrace change. 

Consider connecting with a few trusted coworkers to help you identify the root of your resistance. Addressing your resistance can uncover new solutions for working together through the change process.

Remember, your resistance to change doesn’t make you a bad person. Try not to be embarrassed or stressed out about opening a conversation about your aversion. Your hesitancy is your gut trying to tell you something – connect with your feelings to discover new insight.  

Resources from the Enterprise

Connect with Resolve EAP to discuss your service options, like finding a discussion partner to help you address your aversion.

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