Why Do We Resist Change?

I’m sure you have heard many times how difficult it is for people to change. This is a major challenge in business as well as in our personal lives. Since the world is changing ever more quickly it is increasingly more important to keep up with the changes. To illustrate this I will give you an example I’m sure you have observed over and over again. Lets say a few creative people come up with a great idea and they launch a new business. The business grows quickly and becomes very successful. Because what they have done worked the owners keep doing the same thing and develop a corporate culture around it. Then a few years later the company stops growing and maybe even starts declining. WHAT HAPPENED?

Most people tend to do what brought them success over and over again. They resist change. Some are afraid to take risks. Because the world and your competition keeps changing, what worked a few years ago may not work so well today. This may sound a little dramatic but I like to compare going into business to fighting a war.  Let’s pretend your enemies are your competitors. You can’t just win the first battle (start up), you have to keep winning battles until you have won the war. During that war your enemies have a chance to observe and analyze your battle plan each time you fight a battle. They will study it until they expose your weaknesses and find defenses for your strengths. If you don’t do the same and make appropriate changes you will start losing the battles and eventually lose the war. I’ve seen this over and over again.

One of the major reasons people do not change is, instead of keeping an open mind on all issues and hearing and analyzing  what’s being said, they tend to hear only what proves them right. Why is it when we hear someone like a politician speak we all hear something different? There can be 50 people listening to the speech and we will come up with 50 different versions of what was said and none may be exactly correct. That’s because we all hear the same words but we filter them through our belief system and add our meanings to them. We slightly alter some of their meaning and don’t hear some of the words so we hear what we are looking to hear. It provides proof what we already know is correct.

I’ll give you an example of this some of you may have seen before. Several times I’ve had prospects tell me they do not want to switch to digital menu boards because it will make them look like a “Fast Food” restaurant, even though they already have old style menu boards. If they are convinced this is true and you give them a presentation on digital menu boards they very likely will only hear what proves them right. Your first objective would be to find some way to get them to listen with an open mind. If you can’t do that you likely will be wasting your time.

Unfortunately, there have been a few cases of failure with digital menu boards but many more examples of success. Fortunately, with each case of failure I believe evidence will prove the boards weren’t used correctly. We can compare how the boards were used in the successes to how they were used in the failures. In order to make change easier for people you first have to give them evidence the change you are proposing will make things better for them. As the cost of the change gets higher the more difficult it will be for them. You need to eliminate as much risk as possible. Since many of the prospects you speak to will have seen the failures you need to make sure you can show that happened.

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