Have you ever tried to get someone to change something they have been doing for a long time?  Did you get resistance?  Did you hear any of the following?  “Things are fine the way they are”, “I don’t have time to do that”, “They’re always introducing something new” or the classic “Been there – done that”.

It seems that when people are asked to change a behavior their brain undergoes a threat response.  The amygdala, which lives in the older part of the brain and is the survival center of the brain, receives an alert.  Its sort of like when the fire alarm goes off in your home.  It’s saying, “help, we thought we were safe and now you are going to change things.”

So it sends a powerful message to the pre-frontal cortex which in turn decreases it’s level for higher level thinking.  It’s like putting the brakes on a car.  Until the driver knows it’s safe to press the gas pedal the brakes stay on and the car doesn’t move forward.

So there is actually a chemical reaction that happens in the brain when we ask people to make a change.  If you want to successfully make a change in your system you might want to read this article on how to make organizational transformation work.

“The Neuroscience of Leadership” by David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz