Oszkar and Change
What you will get: A deeper understanding of why humans resist change
“We are just like Oszkar!”
Here is a picture of my dog, Oszkar.
Oszkar can teach you and I something valuable about change management.
Let me share that with you.
When Oszkar was a puppy, we socialised him with lots of animals. Other dogs. Horses. Cats. Sheep.
That way, he would get used to these “strange” creatures at an early age.
And he did.
As an 11 year old dog now, I can safely say he has gone through his life without any problems with these animals. (well maybe not cats – but he is a dog, right?)
But not cows!
About 2 years ago we moved to a different part of the UK. And most mornings on his walk, Oszkar walks past cows.
And he barks.
And barks some more.
This is not a happy, excited, “please oh please throw me a ball” kind of bark.
It’s an unhappy, “What the hell are you, you strange black and white creature?” bark.
So what is the emotion underlying Oszkar’s barks at the cows?
Fear of something different.
Fear of something new.
Fear of something uncertain.
You and I are the same.
Just like Oszkar, humans also fear what they do not know.
Basically, every time you are presented with something, within milliseconds, your subconscious brain (limbic system) scans your memory database to decide how you should react.
You have 3 basic reaction positions:
1 – The limbic system remembers the stimulus in a positive way and you react positively (I have had ice cream before and I like it!)
2 – The limbic system remembers the stimulus in a negative way and you react negatively (Last time someone asked me to dance I made a fool of myself so I don’t like dancing!)
3 – The limbic system has no clear memories about the stimulus and you react negatively (I have no idea what these company changes will mean for me so watch out and be cautious!)
Just like Oszkar, when we are presented with something we do not know, we react with caution at best, rejection and negativity at worst.
Your initial reaction to something new is just your limbic system trying to protect you.
It may be totally unrelated to if the new thing will be good for you.
And of course…
Don’t be surprised if when you start introducing changes to your colleagues and team they react negatively.
They are just trying to protect themselves as they go into unknown territory.
Just like Oszkar the first time he saw a cow!
Are you ready for change?
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