When it’s time for a change, about a third of the people welcome it, and they can tell you specifically why they do so. They can describe its benefits and the possibilities it offers. They are the advocates who generate the early momentum for the change.
But the initial reaction of most people, the other two thirds of those impacted, is resistance. Perhaps half of this group needs time to process what the change means to them; let’s call them “the unconvinced.” But the other half are definite detractors – “the unyielding” – who are afraid of what the change may bring and untrusting of the system that’s proposing it.
You can tell the difference between these two factions.
The unconvinced are open to learning more about the details and implications of the change. Their objections or questions are clear and unwavering, enabling an exchange of perspectives that inform and explore the truth behind the change.
Because the unyielding are fearful of change, they raise objections that are diffuse; as one objection is overcome, another is mentioned to take its place. These alternative objections are vague, often incompatible, because the story on which they are based changes over time in response to their discomfort. In an attempt to end the dialogue so their motivation remains hidden, they may apply a bit of outrage or bravado. Their objections aren’t real and they’re not listening to counter arguments.
To sustain the change momentum, the unconvinced must be won over. A combination of two events causes this to occur:
- Their openness to learning why the change is necessary raises awareness of actual experiences, helping them discover the truth about what they’ve been resisting;
- The change momentum created by the advocates begins to accelerate as more of the unconvinced are converted, so now it’s more daunting to remain on the fence than it is to join in with what’s working.
This cycle of change implementation happens every time. Knowing this can help you win the unconvinced sooner, and realize the benefits of the change more quickly.
How can you win the unconvinced sooner?