Are people naturally resistant to change?


Leaves are turning orange, days are getting shorter, and the sea temperature has dropped to 12oC at French Farm. Winter has arrived.

We continue to swim most days (stormy weather not included) and neighbours question our sanity on a regular basis.


We were working with a client recently, facilitating a complex negotiation process involving numerous parties and stakeholders. The issue, or challenge, of resistance to change arose in the preparatory conversations.

We asked the question of the people “are people naturally resistant to change?”.


We divided them into smaller groups and facilitated a session asking them to think about recent change situations in their own lives, choosing one change that had gone well and one that didn’t go so well.

They discussed these and then recounted their stories.

A couple that stick in my memory are “the day I adopted a magpie with a broken leg” and “when the kitchen roof fell in

By unpacking the stories as a group, we looked at the reasons why some changes went well, and others didn’t.  Almost without fail, regardless of the story or the circumstances, the message was the same:


  • Change didn’t go so well when people felt they had no control and
  • Change went better when people felt in control


The conclusion they came to is that people are NOT naturally resistant to change, but they are resistant to being changed or having change imposed upon them.


The challenge for organisations, leadership teams and for us as consultants is to find ways to enable people to participate in and have a feeling of control over their change.


We are all at the mercy of the seasons changing.

The sea temperatures here will drop to 10oC or below by mid-winter. As with any change, we made a choice to take control over the chilly water situation by a process of acclimatisation and plenty of neoprene. In conclusion, the winter swimming is going well (even if it is a little cold).


We will let you decide whether you think the magpie adoption was a change that went well or not so well!