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Seb Anthony

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exercises to overcome resistance to change


I have been asked to help with part of our organisation where they have been doing some process redesign work. Althnough people heav been involved in the design work, the project has made the classic mistake of not surfacing and dealing with the emotional resistance to the change - until now - go live! If anyone has any experience of this I would value any wisdom you could impart! It may well be easier for me to descirbe the situation in more detail, if so - my number is 07702 777990.

richard rogers

One Response

  1. Change is uncomfortable, but…
    This simple exercise may be ‘too little too late’ if there is already some deep-seated emotional resistance, but it does demonstrate in a fairly safe way, how uncomfortable and unnatural change can feel. It also has the added bonus that it is quick and easy to facilitate and requires no materials so has no cost associated with it (very useful in these difficult times!).

    Ask the group to cross their arms. Ask them how comfortable and relaxed they feel. They should say that it feels natural – ‘normal’. Ask them to note which arm is crossed on top of the other. Now get them to cross their arms ‘the other way’, so that they have reversed the way they have crossed their arms. Ask them how this feels – probably unnatural and uncomfortable, or even difficult to do (some people will find it impossible – always amusing to watch as they wrap themselves up and get frustrated/embarassed!). Explain that this is like going through any change – we all have our ‘comfort zone’ of what we are used to, and don’t like to change from this.

    Next, get them to cross their arms the ‘wrong way’ again. Leave them for several seconds and then get them to uncross their arms. Follow this by repeatedly getting them to cross/uncross their arms the ‘wrong way’. They should find it easier and easier, and get faster at doing it. Explain that despite being uncomfortable with the initial change, this is in fact totally natural with time it gets easier and begins to feel a little more comfortable and given enough time and practise will become the ‘normal’ way of doing things.

    If using this as part of a workshop/long meeting, it works quite well to revisit the exercise at various points in the day, checking if anyone has changed how they cross their arms, again focusing on how much easier the ‘new’ way becomes throughout the day.

    Hope this helps




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