Being Blocked at Work? Any Resistance to Ideas? Don’t Blame Your Colleagues. It’s Just Their Brain at Work.
Have you ever gotten upset with a colleague you think is blocking you and your success at work? Have you ever felt that the colleague was hoarding or hiding information from you? My teacher and Change Management mentor, Professor Samuel Bacharach once commented that the most common thing he’s asked to consult on — when providing Change Management advice and expertise — is: “Resistance” (in the workplace at organizations.)
Expert professors, practitioners, and researchers Victoria Grady, Scott Spohn, and Rachel Whitman are taking the issue of “Resistance” head on. They delivered one of the most insightful presentations [at the Association of Change Management Professionals’ (ACMP) annual “Global Connect” conference] ever on the topic, which was based upon their extensive research.
That colleague who was blocking you, resisting you (or others), and/or hoarding information (i.e. remember that saying, “information is power?”); well, it’s not their fault. Don’t blame them. This is due to the biology of their brains (all of our brains for that matter). The human brain hogs energy. For example, “Chess masters burn up to 6,000 calories per day,” according to Prof. Whitman. The name of the game therefore, becomes; how can our brains “ease mental cognitive load?” The answer is by “thinking fast,” (coined by Daniel Kahneman) — what might be more commonly referred to as “fight or flight” — or — “fight, flight, & freeze.”
The human brain is designed to keep us safe; and safety is translated (biologically in our brains) into shortcuts to “things that we know” (i.e. the past) — to be able to conserve the excessive energy the brain consumes. These shortcuts are a big part of “Resistance” (i.e. to the future) (i.e. to “change”).
You can learn a lot from the field of Change Management. Love your colleagues — even the resistors, detractors, and hoarders (of information). They are just following the biological make up of the human brain. There is hope. Get them to “think slow (and hard).” Make peace and love, not war. And do so while breaking bread over lunch — because your brains will need the caloric energy!!!