Why Do People Hate Change?

People are always going to resist change. That’s because we love what’s predictable and we don’t want anything in our lives that’s going to lead to a loss of control. Everyone wants to feel as though they’re powerful and autonomous.

Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better. ~ Sydney J. Harris

When we’re faced with change, we either rebel or just sit back and practice passive resistance.

Here are 7 things people hate most about change.

1. Uncertainty

How would you feel if someone put a blindfold on you and pushed you off a cliff? Pretty helpless, huh? What if you didn’t have a blindfold on, but you were on the edge of a cliff, not knowing what might be at the bottom, and there was a hungry lion behind you? You might turn around and face the lion, thinking “Well, at least that’s sort of a known quantity.”

Why do you face the lion? Because you’ve got a pretty good idea of what the consequences are going to be. No one wants to face the unknown.

2. Embarrassment

You don’t want to be wrong. When change happens, if you embrace it and it all goes against you, you’re left saying “Wow, I really got that wrong.” If you’re in a leadership role, you’ve not only embarrassed yourself; you’ve caused all of your followers to lose face.

3. Laziness

Almost invariably, change is going to involve work. Work, work, and more work.  People resist change because all that work might lead to a negative outcome – why waste the time?

4. Fear of Failure

When people think that embracing change could lead to failure, they’re understandably reluctant to move forward. They worry about looking stupid or inept.

5. Fear of the “Ripple” Effect

What if I do A, and that results in B, which leads to C, and causes D to occur, and then all hell breaks loose? People worry about the effect that their actions will have on other people over the long term, and sometimes resist taking action accordingly.

6. It Didn’t Work Before…

If a similar action was taken in the past, and the result wasn’t good, people tend to go with the “history is the best predictor of the future” approach. Accordingly, they resist acting, just in case it ends up being “same old, same old.”

7. Is Any of This Real?

Of course it is. Sometimes, there’s a very real possibility that embracing change is going to have a bad outcome, or best case scenario, just maintain the status quo. This is a very real reason why people are uncomfortable with change.

Good leaders can’t always make people feel good about change, but they can analyze the reasons for the discomfort and try to minimize it. This is the first step toward finding a solution to resistance, and possibly even motivating people to accept change.

What To Do?

If you perceive that your people are resisting change (often with a whole lot of help from their peer group), talk to them. Find out why they’re resistant, and try to find ways to help them change their mindset.

Understand that much of the time, a fear of change is rooted in a level of discomfort over having no control, so give the control back – ask for suggestions, encourage input, and maybe even set up a committee to help people find ways to get over the hurdle.

It’s important to realize, too, that in today’s busy world, people are often just tired of constant change. They’ve been asked so many times to embrace new procedures, learn new skills, and plan for new initiatives, that they’re just tired out. This can be a real problem when previous changes resulted in extra work for no extra money, or brought about job losses.


Effective leaders understand that much of the time change makes people feel insecure. It’s important to provide information and to communicate effectively. Help people understand that change doesn’t necessarily mean loss. Keep the communication channels open, and go forward.

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