“It’s no longer about finding the solutions, we are the solution.”
Marilyne Woodsmall, author of People Patterns Power
When most people start out in business, there is this expectation of success, that it’s like a job. Then things change, don’t go as planned, and as the old saying goes, “When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout.” They simply don’t know how to adapt!
That is not only a formula for disaster, it is a misconception of what business really is today, which is adapting to change. You have a plan, and that plan will change, you can bank on it. So why do people resist change?
Adapting to Change: A Simple Test
One of the reasons people resist change is the way they perceive reality. In human behavioral modeling (People Patterns Power shares this example below) there is a theory that the way people view the world based on perceptual filters – some nature, some nurture,- which determines their reaction to change.
In perceptions of reality, you get what you perceive, what you look for, and most people look for things in terms of similarity, congruity to their point of view, and while there isn’t a better/worst scenario here, it’s interesting how they see change.
Here’s a way to test your perception…
What is the relationship among these 3 coins?
Want to know how you, and people you work with, see reality in a simple test? Take 3 quarters and put them on a table, just like you see above.
Then ask this specific question: What is the “relationship among” these coins? It’s critical to ask it this way, and you’re not looking for a thesis response…in fact, the simple response will show you much.
Write down and/or listen to each person describe the relationship, and do not coach or comment. This is one way to use change to measure change!
The 4 Points of View
The key to this exercise is to learn how people perceive reality, which will help you define how they react to change and life in general:
- Most people will start by explaining the similarities between the coins, in fact some can only see the similarities – these are known as “Sameness” people, because they really, really see things only in terms of the similarities, almost to an extreme.
- Now the majority of people see similarities and then logically see the differences, Qualified Sameness people. While they see similarities, these lead them to seeing the difference as well.
- Sameness people will describe the quarters starting with what they have in common, for example that they are all quarters, all have the same value, all are heads up, etc. About 2/3 of the world are Sameness or Qualified Sameness people.
- A much lower percentage of people will see it the opposite way; they will see differences first, sometimes only differences – these Difference people are often perceived as antagonistic, while it’s actually just their point of view. This is also an extreme position and a much lower percentage of people view reality this way.
- Qualified Difference people will see differences and then progress into similarities between the quarters, and in this perception is also their perception of change.
- The Difference people may describe how the middle coin is upside down compared to the two on each end, the different dates on the coins, the differing colors…they notice difference first!
- Most people look at the world as similarities, sometimes categorized as Sameness or Qualified Sameness views – it’s estimated about 2/3 of people are like this. They immediately see similarities between things and find great comfort in things being similar.
- Sameness people see most things as being similar in their world view, and this is especially prevalent in emerging countries and rural areas for some reason.
- Difference and Qualified Difference people see the differences and often are a bit more open to change, because they are not reliant on the world view being similar, congruent, making sense…and again, it’s not a case of one being better or worst, it’s simply a point of view.
- Simply put, if you like to see things the same and remaining constant, you are in the majority and change may/may not be a major challenge for you. It depends on how much you cling to things being the same. You can also use this view to integrate change into becoming similar to what exists, and in that adapt the change into what works for your business.
I’ve done this test with folks in many situations and it’s amazing what you learn from this; most people are resistant to change because they see the world a certain way, and similarities lead to the idea of a static point of view of things not changing…in fact change can really disturb the extreme Sameness folks.
It’s just that fewer people perceive reality in Difference, as shifting, and from that point of view generally are more open to change.
While this is certainly not the ultimate answer to the question Why do we resist change, this one simply replies…because they see change as a shift from Samness, and their point of view resists that point of view.
This exercise is an excellent way to get to know the people you work with as well, so you don’t bug them with your point of view. Sameness and Difference people can clash if they are not aware of what drives them, and how they see the world.
How would you describe the relationship among these 3 coins? How do you react to change in your business?
Share your answers below, I’d love to learn more about how you see the world, and how knowing your inner view can help you connect your ideas, and your business, to others.
(This post is a more detailed response to an answer I posted on Quora here, to the question, Why Do People Resist Change?)