Today I will Do What Others Won't
So Tomorrow I Can Do What Others Can't

How to Reduce the Amount of Time Your Staff Spend in Denial and Resistance to Your Change

Don’t let the first reaction you get to your change force you down an expensive methodologically driven pathway, instead use this tool to help your staff understand your change!

I tend to hear a lot today about how much people hate change and I think that a lot of this perception comes from the initial reactions people give when you first try and make them aware of the need to change.

Typically extremely bad reactions result from the fair process model for change not being followed and as a result the people whom you are impacting immediately go into Denial and Resistance. (You can learn about the four stages of change here).

By recognising that when you first introduce change to people, it can be very hard for them to accept and they may be initially very negative because they have no idea what the change entails and are right now imagining the worst possible things.

It is at this point we need to look at what it is that we are doing or saying that is causing these behaviours. Then look to engage with the people we are affecting in a way that empowers them to express themselves but also starts to form the change in a positive manner for them.

The Bucket List – Helping People Through Denial and Resistance.

I call this the bucket list, so if you are helping people who are coming to your meeting with a list that rhymes with “bucket list” this is for you!

The bucket list is designed to allow the people involved in your change to express themselves, to get out in the open everything they think is negative, interesting and positive about the change. Then you can start getting to work on people’s perceptions of the change and dealing with what people see as problems up front in your communications.

When helping people work through denial and resistance its important to get them to empty their negative bucket first – This gets them to empty everything they think is negative about the change. To do this we use a facilitation technique where you title a table with three columns; “Negative, Interesting, Positive” and under these headings, you write everything people think is Negative, Interesting or Positive about the change.

It is vitally important you follow the order

1.     Negative

2.     Interesting

3.     Positive

This is because you want people leaving the meeting with the change framed positively in their minds.

Understanding how the buckets work

The Negative Bucket

The negative bucket is fairly self-explanatory. It’s everything people feel is negative about the change. It’s extremely important you get everything in the negative space out up front. This is because once you start shifting people “above the line” into positivity you definitely don’t want them moving below the line into negativity again. An example of a negative to changing your website could be that people may lose pages they have bookmarked. This gives you something you can address as part of your project and communications rather than hoping everyone views the entire change as positive.

Don’t spend time during this session trying to refute what people have put up in the negative bucket list. Remember we are approaching this from an emotionally intelligent stance and we are listening to understand, not listening to answer. You can address the negatives at a later stage.

The Interesting Bucket

The interesting bucket is a very important bucket. It is important because you can’t expect people to jump from Negative to Positive without first starting to change their mindsets. Almost always if you jump straight from negative to positive you will leave some people sitting in the negative frame of mind and that will make it harder to shift them into the exploration part of the change curve.

For the interesting bucket, I want you to have your people put everything in here that is interesting about the change. It doesn’t have to be positive, just interesting. For example, something interesting about a redundancy is that it makes you look at other job or career options. You may not view that necessarily as positive but at least it can be interesting.

The Positive Bucket

The third and final bucket is the positive bucket. In here you have everyone list out what they find positive about the change. Even if it’s something small put it up. The idea here is to have people leave your workshop feeling as positive as possible and giving you something to work on in the negative space.

Some people will need some encouragement to move into a positive frame of mind thinking but if you have emptied the negative bucket and spent time on working on what is interesting then you will end up with some good results.

1.     Negative

Put Everything Negative about the change here

2.    Interesting

Put anything that anyone thinks is interesting about the change in here

3.    Positive

Put all the positive thoughts people have about the change in here


By using a bucket list to help people transition their thinking into writing and then guiding them through a process that allows them to see the positive in what the change will bring you will help people feel like they are part of a fair process that cares about what they have to say.

By ensuring you use emotional intelligence during these sessions and listening to understand you can increase the trust that the people effected by the change have in you.

Finally, by starting to use these techniques in your business you can start to reduce the amount of expensive change management methodologies that have a lot of content but not a lot of substance.

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