Change Resistance: Seek & Replace Crippling Fears | #Leadership

Change Resistance: Find & Replace Crippling Fears

Why do people resist change? Much is written on this like Harvard Business Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s article 10 Reasons People Resist Change. As we focus on how to transform change resistance into momentum, we could focus on each reason. Yet if we look more closely, we find the common element to address.

Seek & replace crippling fears to break through change resistance.

Change Resistance: Image is person peaking up out of a hole.

Change Resistance: Find the Crippling Fears. Image by Denis DeMesmaeker

Image by Denis DeMesmaeker via Flickr Creative Commons License.

Change Resistance: Hear the Story, Find the Fears!

If we want to determine the true source of change resistance, we must find the fears. They lay hidden within stories, within silence, within stubbornness, within logical claims of not enough data and within age old sayings like “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.”

Change resistance takes root in the choices and decisions people make based on the fears they want to avoid.

A Story

A patient with a serious rare illness faced the retirement of his long time specialist doctor. Moreover, the patient’s illness often required a hospital stay every year and he had become accustomed to this one hospital. As his family tried to help him find a new specialist to treat his illness, the patient kept saying that it had to be at the sample hospital.

The family was puzzled. They asked him what good is a hospital if the rare specialist you need isn’t there? They told him he was afraid of change and still he didn’t budge. Finally, they asked him what is it about the other area hospitals you don’t like? He then admitted that he had heard the other hospitals were not clean and the staff were mean. He had made a decision based on a fear from hearsay. It wasn’t until the family understood the story, did they learn the fear. A breakthrough!! With some research on the other hospitals, the family and the patient moved ahead to find a good solution.

Lessons Learned

  • Don’t assume other’s fears.
  • Don’t overlook other’s fears.
  • Don’t declare other’s fears.
  • Hear the story; find the fears!

Will you share how you uncovered fears & broke through change resistance?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

Related Post:
5 Steps to Leading Hesitant & Courageous Employees

©2016 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.


Engage in people skills learning!

Let’s turn interaction obstacles into business success in leadership, teamwork, and customer service experience.

I invite your questions, welcome your wisdom, and look forward to working with you.
~Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

10 Responses to “Change Resistance: Seek & Replace Crippling Fears | #Leadership”

  1. Excellent post Kate. I totally believe that in order to move forward in life, people must determine what is blocking them. Once they identify it, a plan to break through to their greatest success and happiness can be done. Sharing with my community!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thank you so much Cynthia. I know this topic is right in your laser focus of keynotes and workshops. Things that are hidden are far more powerful than what we know we fear. Excavate the fears and embrace success!

      Grateful wishes,

  2. Alli Polin says:

    You’re right, Kate. Stories are key. When I worked in organizational change management, I’d often lead focus groups not only communication sessions. Big communication events were to educate, focus groups were to listen and understand. Assuming that you know the heart of the resistance often misses the mark. You can’t know without asking.

    Excellent! Will share!

    ~ Alli

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Alli,
      Very interesting comparison you make between communication events and focus groups — educate vs. listen and understand.

      Many thanks for contributing to this discussion.

  3. Terri Klass says:

    Excellent post, Kate!

    Understanding what is contributing to another person’s fears is essential in being able to help that person. I find that many leaders today assume what is causing a team member to be paralyzed and not take action. In a recent workshop one manager kept complaining that one of their team members was fearful of speaking up and they weren’t sure why. When they finally approached the person it was because they didn’t feel their ideas were worthy to the rest of the team.

    Stories can be so powerful in identifying why people fear change.

    Thanks Kate!

    • Kate Nasser says:

      You are spot on Terri. Assumptions are a killer. If we can all learn to question vs. assume, we rise to new heights of success and happiness.

      Thanks so much!

  4. Great post Kate!

    I worked for an organization that did annual employee surveys. One year the survey emphasized that the company had a giant opportunity to improve communication. Without doing any focus groups to understand what that meant, the company created a new communication department, hired a new VP and a big team, rolled out a new company intranet, and company newsletters…

    The missed the mark completely.

    What the front lines and middle management were trying to communicate is that they were often confused, frustrated and wasting time and energy when they were not included in the why or the how before changes were made. So the obstacles they were aware of were never figured into the plan, and the questions they had were not considered or answered as the plan was rolled out.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      That is a very powerful story Chery. And yes they really missed the mark. It happens every time leadership goes into tell/sell mode instead of engaging mode.

      Many thanks for adding this example. It really speaks volumes!

  5. Angela says:

    We have an employee that is so incredibly shy he can’t bring himself to even speak with a support rep. when we have issues with a piece of software. Over the years I’ve been fine with letting him just communicate via email for support but there came a time when that just wasn’t going to work recently. I probably did not use the best approach with him to understand why he was so uncomfortable. This post was really enlightening and will help me moving forward. Thank you.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Angela,
      Tough moment for your rep and also for you. Yet as businesses evolve there are times that employees who can’t evolve with it must move on and find a work opportunity that lends itself to what they are good at.

      I am so glad that this post helped you for the future and if I can be of any additional assistance, feel free to give me a call.

      Best wishes and regards,

KateNasser on Facebook KateNasser Blog KateNasser on Twitter KateNasser on LinkedIn KateNasser on Pinterest