Four Types of People Who Resist Change

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Resistance to change most often springs from the well of emotion. That’s why helping people overcome their resistance and move forward requires emotional intelligence!

Of course, every individual brings their own particular motivations to a situation but I’ve identified below four kinds of people who may resist change. Understanding their motives can help you design an approach that has the best chance of winning them over.

Devil’s Advocate Dan. The “devil’s advocate” can be misconstrued. It’s easy to dislike Dan, the contrarian, the person who bucks popular opinion, the one who points out negatives when everyone else points out positives.

True “devil’s advocates” (as opposed to straight up trouble makers) actually have the best interest of the church in mind. They genuinely fear that serious obstacles may have been overlooked, that the group is rushing toward a poorly thought-out decision.

I recommend listening to Dan carefully. His gift is not to merely rain on the parade but to help you honestly answer this question: are our plans really the best they can be? You calm Dan’s concerns not by blowing him off but by making sure that, in fact, you have reasonable answers to all his objections.

Anxious Annie. Annie suffers from free-floating anxiety. She’s nervous about many things. Any change scares her. She may state reasons but really she’s simply suffering from an anxious inner state. Annie needs reassurance: everything’s going to be ok.

Power Broker Patty. Patty craves control. She fears the loss of status or personal power. Proposed changes strikes her as a threat to her sphere of influence. You will need sufficient backing from other influencers to overcome Patty’s “objections” to the change. That’s why you build a team of change leaders, as I pointed out in a previous article.

Traditional Tom. Tom is set in his ways and often will tell you so plainly. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. We’ve never done it that way before. We’ve been doing it this way since the beginning of time. Tom genuinely fears the loss of the stable, secure, familiar way. You will need to help him realize that the only way to preserve the best of the past will be to move forward.

You likely can think of other reasons people fear change. Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts.

The main thing we’re trying to communicate here: people often fear change. Any successful effort to lead change has a far greater chance of success when you address those various fears throughout the process.  

Dr. JeannieComment