The last several posts have introduced four typical reactions to change: Satisfied, Resistant, Distress, and Indifferent, and what is required to create a shift from opposed or indifferent to one of receptivity. Those who are resistant need trust, people in distress need a sense of stability, and those who are indifferent need inspiration. Today we're going to discuss what the person who is satisfied with the change requires in order to facilitate a more welcoming environment for others regarding the change: Flexibility.
In our scenario, Jai, the Father, suggested that the family move to a vegetarian diet, and encountered resistance from his son Ian, distress from his wife Betty, and indifference from his daughter Marley. These reactions came as a surprise to Jai, and his initial thought was to push his change through despite the concerns voiced by his family. After all, he believed it would be in the best interest of everyone in the family to adopt what he saw as a healthier lifestyle, and figured the others just hadn't thought the idea through yet but would come around once they did.
Jai's daughter Marley, who initially had little to say about the idea, offered to check-in with the others to better understand their perspectives as a part of a school project. From her findings emerged more clarity around each person's specific reactions and core concerns with Jai's idea. But as Marley attempted to share her findings with her father, she was surprised because:
If you were Jai in this scenario, which option would you choose?
A: Although Jai had agreed to Marley's idea in theory, in reality he doesn't really want to know what the others think. While he wants everyone to be happy, he also thinks his idea is a good one, and doesn't really want to change it. He fears that the concerns of others will result in the diet never changing, or if it does occur, that any revisions will diminish the beauty and simplicity of his original idea. Because of this, Jai told Marley he didn't want to see her findings.
- or -
B. Even though Jai likes his idea in its current form, in truth, he hasn't thought much about how it would work beyond the preliminary idea. He realizes that in order for a diet change for the whole family to work, it needs to be designed with everyone's needs in mind. This way it will move beyond his idea to a family plan. He's not quite sure what to expect, which makes Jai a little uncomfortable, but he realizes that in order to create a change that works for the whole family, he needs to let go of the desire to control, and allow others to help sculpt the idea into an action all are willing to take. Because of this, Jai was thrilled to see Marley's findings.
If you selected response A., you're not alone. It's easy to want to hold on to an idea in its original form, since by the time the idea is presented to others, we've already considered it in detail, romanticized and/or idealized it a bit, or both. When attempts to offer input about, or revisions to, the idea are stifled, this is a sign that we are clinging too tightly to the point where we've created a bubble, separating us from the realities of others.
Bubbles are basically our 'happy place', where we filter the concerns or issues of others in favor of our own vision of what is or what could be. Sometimes bubbles are good, as they can help us to stay focused on a vision despite others' attempts to hinder us; but when it comes to change that requires the buy-in of others, bubbles create walls that result in resentment and hard feelings because other voices aren't being heard.
This is where the need for flexibility comes in: while we might like an idea for change, there are other perspectives at play that, once understood, have the potential to enhance, rather than detract from, the idea. This can make the change something that most, if not all, can agree with, and runs a much greater potential for success.
Share your experiences. Perhaps you feel ideas are best led by the creator and should not be influenced by others, or you have had experiences where a collaborative approach resulted in a much better change than it would have otherwise been. Start the conversation by leaving a comment below!
*note: the proposed dietary change in this scenario is intended as an example only, and is does not represent any views, for or against, a vegetarian or any other diet.
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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