Myth #3: “My People Are Naturally Resistant To Change”

Change is one of life’s constants.  Believe it or not, most of us like change otherwise we would eat the same food day in and day out, at the same restaurant and even holiday in the same place.   So why do we resist change in the workplace?

Read and connect with your clients better

Mentor – Mark Oliver

  • Most people love change but hate “being changed” – make sure your clients feel in control.
  • Develop your optimism to be more successful in just about every part of your life!
  • Recognise life is change!


Kevin: Change is one life’s constants, believe it or not most of us like change, otherwise we’d eat the same food day in and day out and we’d do it at the same restaurant. We’d even go on holidays at the same place. So why do we resist change in the work place? Joining me to talk about that, our guest this week, Mark Oliver. Hi Mark. How are you?

Mark: Good morning again Kevin.

Kevin: This is myth number three, my people are naturally resistant to change. Is that a fact?

Mark: Yeah. Well, that’s a myth I’ve got it because we actually like change and you alerted your audience right at the beginning there, because if we didn’t like change presumably we’d go on the same holidays, more regularly, eat at the same place, more regularly. And now I know a number of us do actually like going to the same place, but few of us do that all the time. And therefore we initiate change in ourselves.

Mark: The thing is we don’t like being changed. That’s the key thing to understand that people are resistant to being changed. And that is actually a loss of control and we don’t like a loss of control in our lives. Corporations often miss that when they try to put change in. ‘Cause often the CEO or the senior person in the corporation who is involved with the change, works very hard to come up with what is probably a great change from an intellectual perspective, and then puts it on to people. Well, of course he’s been part of the change, so he or she, feels fine with it. The problem is that the people below are now having a change pushed on them, and we naturally tend to react to change, no matter how sound or how good it is, on a logical basis.

Kevin: How can you lower people’s resistance to change, Mark?

Mark: There’s one really neat way, involve them. Just involve them as much as possible. There tend to be some limits to how much you can involve people, but nearly always you can involve them far more than you imagine.

Kevin: Optimism. Does that play a part in all of this?

Mark: It does. It’s critical. I mention before how optimism is a mark of success in pretty well every field. In fact in the research, they’ve done very careful research … Seligman’s a master at stats and research … They found that you can actually co-factor out IQ, EQ, looks, experience … you can do all that statistically, so basically you’re left only with sort of optimism levels. Now you can measure optimism very accurately.

Mark: It’s as measurable as IQ, and what you find is that the more optimistic somebody is, the more successful they are in every single profession in America, all the major professions. They’ve done that now across the board. And they are massively more successful. Not just by a little, but far more successful, except for one and that … that profession, I’m gonna leave for the end. I’ll let your listeners have a guess. What might be the major profession where being less optimistic is an advantage and if you remind me at the end I’ll mention what it is-

Kevin: Well, I will remind you.

Mark: But it goes further than career in terms of sport, the more optimistic you are, the better you perform at sport. And it just, and it is quite profound, actually.

Kevin: What about positive thinking? Is that the same as optimism?

Mark: I don’t define it as the same. I think there’s a difference. Because I think seeing reality is very important and positive thinking is the way I understand it, the way I hear it talked about, is pretending things are good. The way I … the simile I’d use is let’s say a tank burst through the window of wherever you’re working, firing. That’s clearly a bad situation. Now, a realist says, “It’s a bad situation” and that tends to de energise them and therefore they are less able to escape the situation.

Mark: A positive thinker in the same situation pretends that it’s a good situation. Well, it’s not but that pretence doesn’t motivate them to change it. Optimists are fundamentally different. They see the reality for what it is and that situation they’d say, “It’s a bad situation.” But then they always go to hope. Almost like a reflex action they go, but there must be something I can do. Now that very thought energises you and gives you an opportunity to do something better, to change the situation and to get a better answer out of it. You’re also more open to change in itself, so I see a profound difference.

Kevin: Okay, well answer that question, I think you said which is the most … the least optimistic profession, is that right?

Mark: Yeah, it’s one that being a pessimist actually helps you be more successful in.

Kevin: And what’s that?

Mark: All of the others, anything from engineer to teacher to doctor, the more optimistic the more successful you are by some way. And the profession which is the only exception is one of the highest professions in America. It’s also one with one of the highest divorce rates, suicide rates and depression rates, it’s law.

Kevin: Oh, goodness. Okay.

Mark: See, your listeners are safe, Kevin.

Kevin: Thank you for that, but we’ll ponder on that one overnight I’m sure. And Mark Oliver, back again tomorrow. We’re going to talk about money. We’re gonna talk about pay, whether or not it’s a good motivator. We’re talking leadership with Mark Oliver who’s the author of a book called, Motivational Leadership. Mark, thanks for your time.

Mark: My pleasure. Good to talk with you again Kevin.

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