Embrace Change? But… I’m Not that Kind of Girl!

Embrace the Chupacabra of ChangeDear Corporate America:

I’m tired of you telling me to indulge in public displays of affection. Rather than embracing change, couldn’t I just give it a fanny slap or a fist bump or something?

Is it odd that I neither fear change nor embrace it? The idea of “change” – out of context – doesn’t provoke any emotional response at all. I get tired of hearing about the need for change—if change is truly needed, I feel an urge to say, “Shut up and change, already. Stop talking it to death!” Change should feel more exciting, shouldn’t it? If properly marketed, we should be dying to embrace it. But about the closest I can ever come to embracing change is the urge to walk up to it, bop it on the chin, then give it a big ol’ bear hug. “Gee, Change, you look kind of familiar – don’t I know you from somewhere? It’s about time you showed up!”

We often speak of Change as if it were a single entity, when in truth it is just one member of the Upheaval family. There’s everything from urgently needed reform to mindless change for the sake of change. There’s small change and there’s paradigm shift, or sea change and no change at all. Most of us can, indeed, embrace change when it makes sense. But sometimes, change appears to us like a mangy cur – we love cute puppies and loyal dogs, but our first gut instinct is to kick the Chupacabra of change in the teeth.

We Can Only Embrace Change We Understand

African environmentalist Baba Dioum said, “In the end, we will only conserve what we love. We will only love what we understand. We will only understand what we are taught.” For change to be embraced, it must be understood.

Change often just suffers from bad marketing. When the need for change is obvious to all – when the current situation is unbearable – it’s not hard to sell change. In fact, it may be all too easy to sell mindless change for the sake of change, simply because everyone’s so desperate to try something – anything – but what they’re doing now. That just leads to more frequent change, and eventually to a loathing of change itself as everyone loses faith in this “change” thing that really hasn’t helped them one bit!

The flip side of that, of course, is that when someone doesn’t understand why things are the way they are, they may try to force a change to make “how things are” more like what they do understand.  Everyone else is happy with the way things are – it’s working for them. It’s always worked for them. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” they cry. And the more change feels forced upon them from outside, the less willing they are to consider that there may be a better way to do things. Change begins to feel contentious, and people get surly about it instead of embracing it – to everyone’s detriment.

Sometimes, change benefits one group, but hurts another. The ocean provides us with a variety of plentiful foods, recreation, and beauty – but have we humans ever foist one change upon that timeless body of water that did anything good – for the sea itself? Ask the ocean to “embrace change” next time you stroll along the beach or enjoy a shrimp cocktail, and invite a tsunami of contempt upon your head from Mother Nature. While we should always strive for a win-win, or at least strive to minimize the negative impact of change we force on others, we need to be mindful of the fact that not everyone will see cause to rejoice in change, and asking them to “embrace it” may seem callous.

When change is necessary but met with resistance, make sure, first, that it is not a mindless exercise in change for the sake of change. Or, as my dad used to say, “Make sure you’re not jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.” Next, make sure that those who seem resistant to the change really understand the need for it – and that you understand why they aren’t seeing how obvious that need is. Maybe they just have a different vision of what “needed change” looks like, and together you can formulate a better solution. Listen, and make sure that the hold-outs feel heard. When people believe that their concerns are being taken into account (because they are, and not just because you’re nodding your head and wondering how long till lunch), its easier to find common ground and work together to accomplish shared objectives.

Don’t ask people to simply “embrace change.” Give them a proper introduction to it, help them to understand its value, and make it look a little less like a Chupacabra. It may take a while for them to love change, but maybe they’ll give it a fist bump or a high five.

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About Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri lives in Texas and claims to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry and Erma Bombeck. She has known since fifth grade that she wanted to be a professional writer. Holly is a technical communicator whose imagination is allowed free rein in her short stories, children's books, and poetry. You can visit her personal blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective," at

About Holly Jahangiri

Holly Jahangiri lives in Texas and claims to channel the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry and Erma Bombeck. She has known since fifth grade that she wanted to be a professional writer. Holly is a technical communicator whose imagination is allowed free rein in her short stories, children's books, and poetry. You can visit her personal blog, "It's All a Matter of Perspective," at


  1. Hi Holly,
    This is a wonderful post and elaborates on what change is, isn’t and whether it is needed or not, plus other things. I have been in places of employment that changed how things were to be done so often that eventually nobody even cared anymore and just did what we were told. It was totally depressing and frustrating.

    I have seen other times when a change was a good thing to make things better. I saw a recent change recently that I question, and am not so sure why it was done

    Great article, Holly.
    Sally Brown recently posted..Holiday Blues – 7 Steps To Gain Control Over ThemMy Profile

  2. This is a very intelligent take on Change, Holly! I love how you pointed out the need to make Change truly understood, the need for proper marketing. I particularly hate it when people try to resist ideas I know they don’t even understand and don’t even care to TRY to understand. It’s frustrating! I hope they read this! THANKS!
    Joy Page Manuel recently posted..Fortune Friday 12.2.11: When It’s Wise To Walk AwayMy Profile

    • Yes! Knee-jerk reaction to change is just a form of prejudice. 🙂 But as I mentioned to Greg, on another post comment, prejudice isn’t formed in a vacuum. It’s learned – and I think here, it’s a form of change burnout. Too much unwelcome and unfounded change leaves people weary and wary and less willing to be openminded. I think there’s some recognition of that in the business community, but have you ever noticed how the use of euphemisms – like “transformation” – also end up being overused and taking on nasty connotations they don’t deserve, simply because people recognize them as poor packaging for a bad idea? If the underlying idea is good, and the foundations for it are properly laid and communicated, we can take away the stigma of the word “change” and no one will have to be TOLD to embrace it.

  3. Change starts from within. Change yourself first and you’ll influence change in other people’s behavior. A good read. Thanks for sharing.
    Jena Isle recently posted..How to Know If It’s Migraine: Be Aware of These Migraine SymptomsMy Profile

    • Good point, Jena! Thanks for dropping by! You know, that’s an important characteristic of good leaders – lead by example, not by intimidation or force, and you’ll have people lined up to follow you into hell. Never ask others to do what you’re unwilling to do, yourself, and they’ll take you seriously and do things they’re not particularly eager to do, but that need to be done.

      Hmm… off to read up on migraines! I think my headaches, lately, are tension and muscle spasms. But I know your post is bound to be informative!
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Courage to ContinueMy Profile

  4. Best read of the week Holly!

    A resolution of change without specifics or defining motivation is wishful at best.

  5. Change is neither good not bad in and of itself. Change is always good if it is an improvement, and always bad if it makes things worse. And you don’t have to hug me for that advice. 🙂

    • Amen to that (I mean to our agreement on change – I’m sure you’re quite huggable)! It just seems sometimes we live in the Age of the Cult of Change. As if Change were some end, in and of itself! I’m all for change that makes sense – I can’t say I’ve ever “feared” change. Found it tedious and unnecessary, at worst. Change that’s an improvement should feel welcome, even exciting – not leave you thinking, “Aw, crap, here we go again – weren’t we just THERE a year ago?”
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Courage to ContinueMy Profile

  6. That’s a really good point, Jovie – fear of the unknown often causes people to be apprehensive of change. Sometimes, they have to be reassured – and shown that doing things the same old way is actually detrimental. I once had to reassure a woman that change was going to mean learning new skills and gaining importance in her position – NOT being replaced by a computer or a high school drop-out. She was initially VERY resistant to change, but eventually became a huge proponent of it and made the transition very well.
    Holly Jahangiri recently posted..43Things: Beyond the “To-Do List”My Profile

  7. The new boss said we need changes in the organization. One boss, who is already past retirement age but kept his position, nodded and said, “yeah, let’s start with that group of young middle managers”.
    Novz recently posted..5 Reasons Why People Write BlogsMy Profile

  8. true! people only embrace change they understand. most times, out of fear for the unknown (which may be nothing scary at all), people just shut down when asked to change something.

    sometimes its annoying trying to get people to accept a new proposal that they’ll even be happy to be a part of, just that they refuse to see for themselves how it will benefit them.
    Jovie Onyema recently posted..Pics: Gay Wedding in LagosMy Profile

  9. Truly Inspiring for me.I love the way you share your thoughts and views.But sometimes it is very difficult to accept,maintain or make a change.
    I wish to make so many big changes in my life for my future.,i know what i have to do for it,but sometimes i really feel i am not doing all that.
    Abhi Balani recently posted..6 Reasons Why No One Knows About Your BlogMy Profile

    • Personal change that’s driven by internal factors is a little like happiness, Abhi – largely a choice we make, and a commitment to ourselves to see it through. I think that if there is no motivation and no commitment (and the two are often confused, but are not really synonymous), then there is no impetus to change.

      You might TRY selling yourself on the notion of changes you want to implement and giving yourself deadlines as if they were being imposed on you from outside – something you had to accept and do – but again, it’s a bit like other things we procrastinate over. We can really only lie to ourselves so much, for so long – ultimately, we know whether this change is something we truly WANT to implement or not.
      Holly Jahangiri recently posted..Ahh, but I Digress…My Profile


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