I ran across an article that I didn’t even know I needed to read until I read it….. “On Being a Changemaker” by Karen Pryor.
It hit hard. So THIS is what I’ve been doing, and WHY it’s been so incredibly hard. I’m making things change (well, I’m trying…. not succeeding yet.) The phases of change she defines fit perfectly. The reactions from people around me are exactly as she describes. I know, however, that my reactions have not been as effective as they could be, so my goal is to take her ideas as my guide. This applies both to my work and to the advocacy I do (or try to do) with my children’s schools.
With full credit to Karen Pryor, here are her steps of what people do when faced with change:
- Ignore you
- Pretend to agree, but actually do nothing
- Resist, delay, obstruct
- Openly attack you (the dangerous phase, but also a sign that change is starting)
- Take credit
Read the rest of the article for more details, but I am especially struck by her effective responses. I need to internalize them. The one I am very much looking forward to is the last:
They’re taking credit for your idea? By all means let them; your goal is the change. Credit is a low-cost reinforcer and people who want it don’t satiate. Give it away in buckets.
I can’t wait until that day. So far, I don’t see it, but I welcome it!The process of change is hard.
For my reference, here is Karen Pryor’s complete list of effective reactions:
- When they ignore you, find allies and persist.
- Don’t be misled by lip service. Find allies and persist.
- Meet resistance with persistence. Move around the resistance; try other avenues.
- The stage of open attack is a touchy time. People can get fired, for example. Keep your head down, but persist. Don’t take the attack personally, even if it is a personal attack. Attack is information; it tells you:
a) You’re getting somewhere: change IS happening, causing extinction-induced aggression.
b) Your attacker is frightened. Empathize.
c) Your attacker still believes in the efficacy of aversives.
- Absorbing and utilizing: this stage can last a year or more. Maintain generous schedules of reinforcement.
- They’re taking credit for your idea? By all means let them; your goal is the change. Credit is a low-cost reinforcer and people who want it don’t satiate. Give it away in buckets.
- Are they pitching the change? Good. If you want to change something else, you now have new allies.
– With credit to the Minnesota Council for the Gifted & Talented, where I first saw the story, and to MinnPost, Nov. 13, 2012, for the reference to Karen Pryor’s blog.