Here are four things to remember when we deal with people and change projects:
1. People are both rational and irrational. We are rational in that if we understand ourselves well enough we usually can see the thread of logic used in decision making. Almost always this thread is not objective, but driven by emotions, past experiences, our joys and hurts, but we can ‘see’ this if we know ourselves well. But this is also why we are irrational, because the other person looking at us, even the other who has been with us for 50 years; to them we are irrational because they are looking for the objective thread, which doesn’t exist.
2. People try to limit risk and uncertainty. When evaluating options it is often easier to stay with what is familiar to us than unfamiliar. This may not be the logically choice from an outside point of view, but it makes sense to me, the one deciding – it just feels right.
3. People look at what others are doing. We want to know who else has done this before or is doing it now. Even as adults, peer pressure works both ways – to stop us from changing and to inspire us to change. But the stories of others doing it need to be the right people – people I respect or admire.
4. People are motivate by fear and shame. We do not want to lose our job, look stupid, be laughed at, or fail. Most of us, heap shame on ourselves when we try to change and do not succeed the way we hoped – we internalise this into phases like “I’m useless”, “I’m a terrible person”, “I’m no good at this”, and so on (weight loss anyone?). Change becomes viewed as a threat to who we are.