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Advice to Practitioners: A Review of the Popular Press Literature on Planned Change Communication
Unformatted Document Text:  Advice to Practitioners - 11 resistance seriously, respecting those who offer resistance, improving communication with resisting stakeholders, seeking mutual gain, and taking a long-term view of the process. Causes of Resistance There are six themes that reflect major proposed causes of resistance to change: 1) uncertainty, 2) make things worse, 3) personal harm, 4) perception of loss, 5) fear, and 6) denial. Whereas on the surface several of these themes appear similar, the authors present them separately and provide recommendations for handling each one differently. Fear. This theme explains why “many people avoid seeing the need to change” (Strebel, 1998, p. 79). It is also described as a manifestation of high stress found in change environments (Eckes, 2001). Johnson (1998) uses a story of mice and little people in a cheese maze to illustrate the ways in which people react to change. In the story, sniff and scurry are held up as models of effective adapters to change demonstrating their eagerness to adapt to new circumstances. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, rant, rave and worry about what will happen to them and how they will manage now that the “cheese” has been moved. Hem and Haw are presented as classic resistors who fear the discomfort of change. The “Beast” is the term Conner (1992) uses to describe people’s fear about change and the negative impact change can have on people’s lives. Strebel (1998) further elaborates on the fear theme by proposing that for many employees, including middle managers, change is neither sought nor welcomed. It is “disruptive and intrusive. It upsets the balance” (p. 141). Uncertainty. Uncertainty, or ambiguity is commonly identified as a cause of resistance and five books focus on this issue. Conner (1992) notes that “people are control-oriented animals – we seek predictability” (p. 27). Duck (2001) explains, “their resistance may stem from a lack of understanding or conflicting beliefs” (p. 175). It certainly can be argued that uncertainty can itself be a cause of several other themes, such as fear. As Bridges (1991) suggests (quoting Marilyn Ferguson, American futurist), “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that in between place

Authors: Lewis, Laurie., Stephens, Keri., Schmisseur, Amy. and Weir, Kathleen.
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Advice to Practitioners - 11
resistance seriously, respecting those who offer resistance, improving communication with resisting
stakeholders, seeking mutual gain, and taking a long-term view of the process.
Causes of Resistance
There are six themes that reflect major proposed causes of resistance to change: 1) uncertainty, 2)
make things worse, 3) personal harm, 4) perception of loss, 5) fear, and 6) denial. Whereas on the surface
several of these themes appear similar, the authors present them separately and provide recommendations
for handling each one differently.
Fear. This theme explains why “many people avoid seeing the need to change” (Strebel, 1998, p.
79). It is also described as a manifestation of high stress found in change environments (Eckes, 2001).
Johnson (1998) uses a story of mice and little people in a cheese maze to illustrate the ways in which
people react to change. In the story, sniff and scurry are held up as models of effective adapters to change
demonstrating their eagerness to adapt to new circumstances. Hem and Haw, on the other hand, rant,
rave and worry about what will happen to them and how they will manage now that the “cheese” has been
moved. Hem and Haw are presented as classic resistors who fear the discomfort of change. The “Beast”
is the term Conner (1992) uses to describe people’s fear about change and the negative impact change can
have on people’s lives. Strebel (1998) further elaborates on the fear theme by proposing that for many
employees, including middle managers, change is neither sought nor welcomed. It is “disruptive and
intrusive. It upsets the balance” (p. 141).
Uncertainty. Uncertainty, or ambiguity is commonly identified as a cause of resistance and five
books focus on this issue. Conner (1992) notes that “people are control-oriented animals – we seek
predictability” (p. 27). Duck (2001) explains, “their resistance may stem from a lack of understanding or
conflicting beliefs” (p. 175). It certainly can be argued that uncertainty can itself be a cause of several
other themes, such as fear. As Bridges (1991) suggests (quoting Marilyn Ferguson, American futurist),
“It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that in between place


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