Why do we tend to say no? I believe it begins in childhood, right from the womb. Kids are vulnerable, needing protection from a world they do not know. They are not in control and do not understand much. It takes months for them to be mobile, moving from crawling to sitting to standing to walking. Speech is a process, just words at first. One of the first ones, after momma and Dada, is “no”. They can’t do or say much so they rely on “no” to try and give them some sense of control, even though most times it does not work. They are exploring their world and push against boundaries. They also are often afraid and don’t want to be carried into strange territory with strange people. So it is understandable that they often say “no”.

Do you remember those feelings? Most of us don’t actually have memories going back that far but unconsciously we remember and for some of us the feeling remains. That’s why saying no is understandable. If you feel a lack of control and feel like everything outside your control is strange and dangerous you will resist change. If the imagination and curiosity is not strong enough you will stay with the familiar and resist change.

In 2010 Chip and Dan Heath wrote a book called Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard where they liken change to an elephant – a great word picture. They layout strategies of promoting change that involve ways to move the elephant, help the rider to move the elephant, and clearing the path in front of the elephant. Brute force alone will not work – imagine try to push an elephant:)

Next time you get frustrated by someone’s resistance to change think about where they might be and what they have come from. No one should penalize a baby for crying – they have so many reasons for it – hunger, fear, wet diaper, etc. Similarly, we should take the time to listen and understand why some might be resistant due to their life circumstances. In the end we may need to press on with change and leave them behind. But not first without trying to listen and induce them to move forward. We may learn something n the process.

This week I would like to examine the “no” and “yes” responses that we may face – in our world and in ourselves. Think about your “yes’s and “no’s and the reasons why you respond that way.