Impact of Holding Your Breath During Organizational Change


“Resisting change is like holding your breath, if you persist, you die.”

Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism

Any change effort is likely to face a few change resisters. Unfortunately, even if these resisters are few, they can quickly erode momentum and stop change in its tracks.


Employ the following four tools to help get people on board.


1.  Cold, hard facts.

Use evidence to show that change is necessary and possible. Get your facts from multiple sources, and be diligent about details; even a small error can discredit your case for change. I’ve seen this happen.

2.  Counter-arguments.

Know what your opponents are saying. Prepare to acknowledge their concerns; then, offer a compelling argument for your point of view.

3.  Big picture.

In the short term, change is uncomfortable. Focus on the big picture and explain why the change is the right move for the long term.

4.  Repetition and pressure.

Stay on message, repeat your best arguments, and apply the necessary pressure to turn the change-averse around. Don’t underestimate the power of repetition and persuasion.

Adapted from Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s Four Tools for Defeating Denial


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Sandra Schwan

Sandra Schwan

Managing Partner at Evolving Strategies LLC
Sandra is the Managing Partner of Evolving Strategies LLC, a consulting firm helping companies and people learn, adapt and perform. Sandra holds a Master of Science degree in Adult Learning and Strategic Organizational Change from Northwestern University’s School of Education and Social Policy, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Arkansas. Previous employers include the Corporate Executive Board, Lante Corporation, Kensington International, and Accenture where Sandra was awarded mentor of the year.

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