Who Is Resisting Change?

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It’s not about others, is it? The partner who procrastinates, the employee who resists silently, the child who rebels. It’s about not being clear enough and resorting to cajoling, whining, nagging or raising your voice by a few dozen decibels. This fact hits me like a brick while reflecting on an e-mail from a friend saying she was ready to explode at her spouse’s passive resistance. There are flashbacks of my own personal and business changes, and the building resentment about the Other’s inertia or attempted sabotage.

Yes, the actions of the Others (or lack thereof) can affect you and slow down your own momentum, if you continue to need their collaboration. Let me explain. When I have needed the help of Reluctant Others, their reluctance has only become my burden when I let it. When I focus instead on what results I want to achieve and let that strong intention be known, I enlist Different Others who share my goal or at least my enthusiasm. The Reluctant Others have their transition to go through. I can be compassionate, I can listen, what I cannot do is waiver, delay or amortize the consequences.

Two strategies have helped me move closer to what I know is essential to my continued well-being. The first one is letting go and unruffling my feathers. Not always easy to do, as I tend to sometimes take life too seriously. When I do relax and laugh at myself, something in my body language, tone, words (or serene silence) lets the Other know something bigger has taken over… and he or she moves over. Just like that.

The second is to continue to feed the passion until it catches on and becomes contagious. Different Others you didn’t know were there or had forgotten, are atracted to the flame and come forward with ideas about how to do ‘it’. Sometimes, even the Reluctant Ones lose their reluctance and join in. Don’t count on it though.

A third strategy has delivered but with harsh consequences. That strategy is to fuel your anger against the Reluctant Other to the point where this very fire propels you forward to embrace the change you were resisting all along. Yes, you were resisting the next wave and bracing against the Other.

My hope is that the first two strategies become my default for the rest of my life.