Us versus Them: Reframing Resistance to Change

Anyone attempting to lead change in an organization knows to expect some resistance; but this is no less frustrating for being predictable. Over time, you may find yourself gravitating toward those who support the change, and distancing yourself from those who openly or quietly oppose it.

Unfortunately, approaching change with this sort of “us versus them” mindset actually increases pushback. When we think of people as resisters, we tend to discount their perspective, assuming that if we are right, they must be wrong. Yet, in reality, each group is simply paying attention to different things. Change champions generally see the upside of change and the downside of the status quo; so-called resisters see the downside of change and the upside of the current state. Each is right, but only half-right.

Thus, rather than assuming critical thinkers are resisters, we would do better to treat them as “guardians.” Guardians see what needs to be protected. They help keep us honest, asking hard questions, and highlighting risks we need to consider. They recall the promises and values we need to honor if we want to sustain trust. By engaging them with respect, we actually improve our change strategy.

In this post on strategy + business, Us versus Them: Reframing Resistance to Change, I offer a few practical strategies for building a bridge between change champions and guardians, to help you truly advance positive change in your organization.

Tell me what you think!

All the best,

Elizabeth Doty