Chapter 6

Dealing with the huff stuff—dealing with resistant, defensive and stubborn behaviour

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.

Mark Twain, novelist and speaker

Have you noticed that the world is changing? And it's changing quickly! Never before have we had to be more adaptable, flexible and fast moving to keep up with change than we do right now. Your organisation has almost certainly faced some degree of change in the past six months. It might even be in a constant state of change. Fear not, though: this is now the norm, not the exception.

The notion of a five-year strategic plan has disappeared in this rapidly changing world, and most organisations have realised such a process is guessing, at best. Right now we can't say what the business world might be like in 12 months' time, let alone in five years. Flexible and forward-thinking organisations that not only deal with but also embrace constant change will rise to the top.

But doing that is not as simple as it sounds.

Humans have an innate resistance to change. Our physiological systems are actually wired to keep us in a state of status quo, known as homeostasis. The body constantly regulates its systems to maintain them within certain levels, like our body temperature, our weight, blood glucose levels, metabolism and hormone balances.

Genetically, we're programmed to resist major changes to these internal systems and work hard to maintain equilibrium. ...

Get Dealing with the Tough Stuff: How to Achieve Results from Crucial Conversations now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from nearly 200 publishers.