Receptiveness to Change


said he did; most people like to be thought of as open to change. But as a manager, Thomas wasn't. Whenever someone proposed a new project or a new way of tackling a technical problem or a new, well, anything, he swiftly found reasons to oppose the idea. The status quo was Thomas's favorite hangout.

At the right end of the continuum, by contrast, are people who thrive on change and get bored if two minutes pass without a change of some kind. These people often create problems in order to have something to fix. Doing anything that borders on the routine is positively mind numbing.

Al, an assistant vice president, fit this description. Like Thomas, he was easy going, but in a different way. For Al, change was fun, invigorating, and stimulating. Every crisis--and his company had many--was just another challenge to be tackled. If he could, he would have started new initiatives every day, and there was no idea so unthinkable that he wouldn't consider it if you wanted to make a case for it. Sometimes, when things got too dull for him, he stirred things up, such as by giving two managers conflicting information and then waiting to see if they figured it out.

Whether people are at the far ends of the continuum or, like most people, somewhere in between, significant change can pack a wallop. And please understand that a significant change is one that a particular individual or group experiences as significant, whether anyone else has the same reaction. So, I may experience a reorganization as a fascinating readjustment, whereas for you it's a kick-in-the-gut upheaval. You may experience the decision to acquire a new development tool as exciting, while I refuse to give up doing things the way in which I'm already proficient.

If you work in an organization that experiences change--and what organization doesn't?--you will be more effective in helping people adjust if you anticipate variations in their behavior in response to change. Gary was puzzled by the way people reacted, but there's no need for you to be, too.

About the author

Naomi Karten's picture Naomi Karten

Naomi Karten is a highly experienced speaker and seminar leader who draws from her psychology and IT backgrounds to help organizations improve customer satisfaction, manage change, and strengthen teamwork. She has delivered seminars and keynotes to more than 100,000 people internationally. Naomi's newest books are Presentation Skills for Technical Professionals and Changing How You Manage and Communicate Change. Her other books and ebooks include Managing Expectations, Communication Gaps and How to Close Them, and How to Survive, Excel and Advance as an Introvert. Readers have described her newsletter, Perceptions & Realities, as lively, informative, and a breath of fresh air. She is a regular columnist for When not working, Naomi's passion is skiing deep powder. Contact her at or via her Web site,

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