20 Change Resistor Responses & Their Real Meaning

Change Resistor Responses & What They Really Mean

Leaders and managers know that change is not easy. Overcoming change resistance is not easy either. Being able to spot it is vital. Here are 20 change resistor responses and what they really mean.

Change Resistors: Image is block lettering word is resistance.

Change Resistors: What They Say to Change Agents. Image by Kostya Sasquatch via Flickr.

Image by Kostya Sasquatch via Flickr Creative Commons License.

20 Change Resistor Responses & What They Really Mean


  1. We don’t support this.
  2. We’ve heard this before.
  3. We’ve seen this before.
  4. We’ve been there before.
  5. We’ve tried this before.
  6. … change resistor way of saying we’re not interested.

    Logical Denials.

  7. We’ve proven this futile before.
  8. Where’s the data to prove it will work?
  9. Here’s why this won’t work.
  10. … means we think our logic can stop the change.

    Neutral Negating.

  11. This is difficult, isn’t it?
  12. This is distressing news.
  13. This is a disturbing development.
  14. … means we can stall the change by being neutral and not taking action.

    Sounding the Alarm.

  15. Do you know the trouble this can make?
  16. This is very alarming.
  17. Sudden changes can have dire consequences.
  18. How on earth do you expect us to do this?
  19. … means we can stop the change if we raise fears.

    Unfair Trip.

  20. We were doing a great job. There’s no need for a change.
  21. I guess the pawns don’t get a say in this.
  22. We could have achieved it if given more time.
  23. … change resistor way of saying this is unfair to us.

    Excluding Outsiders.

  24. You don’t understand the way things work here.
  25. You’re too new to know what’s right.
  26. … means we can stop the change if we label change agents as uninformed and not credible.

It’s easy to get caught up in change resistor responses. As you address each response, you get caught in their inertia. This doesn’t help them and it doesn’t help the change. Change gets tougher when leaders stop leading.

To lead change well, answer true questions. Don’t answer statements nor statements masquerading as questions. Inspire, inform, and move everyone ahead. It gives each change resistor the best chance at growing and thriving. It moves them past crippling fears.

What other change resistor responses would you add to the list above?

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

Related Posts:
Leadership: Persistence vs. Distorted Resistance to Change
Leadership Innovation Blocks: Are These Happening to You?

©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 info@katenasser.com 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™

6 Responses to “20 Change Resistor Responses & Their Real Meaning”

  1. Alli says:

    It can be so hard to stop and say “I hear you” instead of steamrolling the change. People want to know that their concerns are heard during times of change. Thanks for helping people hear the message beneath the words.

    ~ Alli

  2. Great post Kate!

    I read each line and thought of specific examples that those phrases have been used!
    Really understanding and knowing why those responses are coming up is so important!
    Do they need more direction or more support?
    Do they have unanswered questions?
    Do they not understand the vision?
    Do they just need time to process the change?
    Are they completely tapped with other change related projects and really can’t handle one more thing at this time?
    Is their ego threatened by the change agents?
    Or are they really change resistant? (I have found very few people in this category.) Usually there is a reason for those questions.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Great questions Chery. It’s always important to think through what’s behind the resistance. I noticed you said that very few are change resistant. If you look at that phrase as change resistant forever I agree. Yet while people are temporarily resisting change, they are change resistant and I’ve seen it take hold. There are leaders who get stuck in the analysis of why and spend extended time trying to convince people. They think that taking more “time” will undo the change resistance.

      Time alone does not do it. Many people are moved by seeing the positive results of change. So paradoxically, they must move past change resistance to lower change resistance! Great leaders know how to do this and bring everyone along.

      Many thanks for expanding this discussion,

  3. Terri Deuel says:

    Hi Kate, Great points in your article and Alli and Chery’s comments gave me more to think about. Having done integration work with M&As, I know the importance that respect, compassion and empathy can play during change initiatives. To that end, listening with an open mind and heart and being responsive to feedback can go along way in getting folks on board. It can also be key to adapting an initiative that is absolutely not right.


    • Kate Nasser says:

      Wonderful summary Terri — respect, compassion, empathy. These are the underpinnings of servant leadership that leads change with understanding without contributing to inertia.


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