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Why do people find change so difficult?

We all have a natural instinct to resist change. How often do you go into a regular meeting and see everyone taking their ‘usual’ seat? Or we visit our favourite lunch haunt and order the same food again…. and again…. and again!

In other words human beings generally like things to stay the same. But why? Understanding the reasons behind this instinctive desire to preserve the ‘status quo’ provides key insights for people leading change within their business.

At its heart, I believe that we find change difficult because we are actually hard wired to preserve the status quo. If you think back to our caveman-ancestors, they knew that if they visited the river to collect water at certain times of day, then they were less likely to be eaten by a hungry lion. They knew the best places to go to catch game. And they were certain about where their territorial boundaries lay ie where they would be safe from neighbouring tribes.

In other words, for our ancestors, the status quo represented SAFETY, SECURITY and the possibility of THRIVING.

Life is not so very different for modern day, sophisticated, twenty first century people. In today’s world we talk about being in our ‘comfort zone’, or being ‘in a bit of a rut’. We are still hard wired to protect ourselves from danger, avoid confrontation and stay where it is safe.

As leaders of change, our challenge is to implement change successfully when people are naturally resistant. My tips for leading successful change are:

  1. Accept that people will be resistant because that is their natural instinct. Resistance might not be ‘right’ or ‘logical’. However it IS real!

  2. Give people a context for the change. Understanding ‘why’ something is happening is an important step in moving forward.

  3. Communicate – often and consistently. Communication creates familiarity. Familiarity creates security, and the ‘new’ gradually becomes the new ‘status quo’.

For more ideas on how to manage change successfully, call me now on 07715 546264 or contact me on I look forward to hearing from you!


  • Nicola Rees:

    17 Jan 2013 14:06:41

    Great tips!!


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