Where you are coming from matters

Where you are coming from matters

Are you trying to introduce changes at work? Are you issuing new policies which will require people to adjust?

Let me share a story with you. The other day, I asked our electrician to change the lights in our bedroom to a warm yellow hue. I saw this in the last hotel our family stayed in and I thought it would add a nice touch to our bedroom.

When my wife came home, I was so proud presenting this to her. But instead of getting a compliment, I got a flat, “Bakit yellow?” (why yellow?) comment. Whoops… surprise fail!

I had 2 options at this point. I could have resented that comment, thinking “Here I am trying to improve our home and you can’t even appreciate it?”  Or, I could get to the bottom of things and find out why she reacted that way.

So cooler heads prevailed and I asked. It turns out that pallid yellow reminds her of the time she spent in a creepy classroom when she was a kid. Every time she sees that, it feels like she’s back in that creepy place. I’m glad I asked because if I didn’t, I’d be left with the impression that she was just being unappreciative and it was a color preference clash.

Now that I know where she was coming from, I then became more understanding of the resistance. I was also moved to do something about it. The following day, I changed all lights back to white. Now she’s happy.

How does this apply to you?

When you’re implementing new policies, new systems, you may encounter the same resistance.

  • You get, “Ma’am, I can’t report at 9am! Let’s just maintain the 8am time we have now!”
  • Or, “Sir, we’re already filling up too many forms. Don’t add a new project form please.”

You’d be tempted to jump to the conclusion that some employees are lazy. That they are resisting your changes just because they are content with what  you have now.

But don’t make that jump too quickly. I advise you ask. Who knows, you may find that they’re actually onto something valid and that’s why they are resisting.

  • “Ma’am, I bring my son to school at 7am every morning. Right after that, I arrive just in time for work at 8am. That’s why I prefer it.”
  • “Sir, we no longer have room in the stockroom to store new documents. That’s why I’m hesitant to add another one.”

My point is that don’t jump to conclusions when you encounter resistance. It pays to ask because you get inputs that help you adjust your plans and implementation.

Who knows, after you know the reason behind the opposition, you may find yourself changing light bulbs back as well.


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