The secret to understanding people: The human change curve


Have you ever wondered why you or anyone for that matter takes soooo long to change or to accept a change?

Have you introduced someone to something totally new that you knew was fantastic, out of this world and truly dynamite, just to have them look at you like you were crazy. Why do you think that is?

It happens to all of us on a daily basis and is seems to happen to me on an hourly basis!

We are designed to resist change and seek “normalcy”or the status quo. Think about it for a second. Imagine that each time you walked into your office you found it rearranged and everything was in a different place. It would literally drive you insane and you wouldn‚’ be able to get anything done.

But we all know that change is inevitable, unpredictable and very, very constant (Funny, I know!). So how can we manage those changes and flow from our current “normal”to a new “normal”with the least amount of effort, pain and time?

I’m glad you asked me that!

The answer is:

Learn to use the Human Change Curve (HCC) to your advantage.

The HCC is a plotted curve that shows the phases we go through when faced with some sort of change. And really it could be any type or any size of change. You’ll almost always be able to fit it to this curve. Now, we don‚’ always necessarily go through all the phases all the time. Sometimes we don‚’ resist the change and accept it right away (can you say serious pain if you don‚’ change) but for the most part we do.

The important thing to remember is that we are trying to manage the RESISTANCE to change. If there is no resistance, than there is no problem to manage and everything will flow smoothly.

For our purposes today, we are going to look at the 4 very basic phases:

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  1. Shock or Denial
  2. Resistance
  3. Exploration
  4. Acceptance


In some models, there are quite a few more phases and also depending on the problem to address, there will be more or others.

[su_service title=”Shock” icon=”icon: lightbulb-o” icon_color=”#082574″]

This is where we first learn about the change that is going to take place. Normally, we face this when the change is imposed on or suggested to us and is where we might think, “No Way, this can‚’ be happening”or “I don‚’ need to change‚Äù. We are in our Status Quo and our performance is “normal”or base line. We are comfortable and accustomed to our day to day.[/su_service]

[su_service title=”Resistance” icon=”icon: lightbulb-o” icon_color=”#082574″]

We now begin to realize that the change is going to happen and we may react by saying or thinking, “Nope. Not doing it‚Äù, “this is silly, I can‚’ believe I have to do this!”Our performance also begins to suffer as our “normal”gets disrupted. We don‚’ feel comfortable here, we may need training or to learn something new to get on track and this in itself is another change that we might need to make on top of the first one. We feel the workload getting heavier![/su_service]

[su_service title=”Exploration” icon=”icon: lightbulb-o” icon_color=”#082574″]

We are now at our lowest point performance wise and realize that the change is inevitable and we begin to try it out or experiment with it a bit more in depth. We may begin to see some of the possibilities that the new “normal”could bring us and continue to see what we can do with it and where it can take us. The curve begins to move up.[/su_service]

[su_service title=”Acceptance” icon=”icon: lightbulb-o” icon_color=”#082574″]

Now we have accepted the change and are embracing it as our new “normal‚Äù. If it is a positive change, our performance is shooting past our original Status Quo and we may think “How in the world did I ever live with out this!”or “God, this is great. Why didn‚’ I do this sooner!‚Äù[/su_service]

FIGURE 15.4 Virginia Satir Change Curve

Of course, I have only addressed positive changes with this and we could fit negative changes in this model as well but that’s for another article.

When you begin to fit yourself and others in this model you will deepen your understanding of your resistance and that of others when it comes to change. It will allow you to manage the process of going from one state to another or to help others through that transition, increasing performance all the way around!

It is truly amazing to watch people’s faces as they go through the different phases and trust me, you will see it. It’s even more amazing to be able to come up with the solutions, on the spot, to the challenges that you might face or to the resistance that others manifest when comes to change and make that Change Curve so much more shallow and increase their performance and yours!

And this my friends, is what its all about.

Happy Changing!
To find out more about Change Management and personal development or to participate in the ongoing personal development debate, drop me note or two and let me know what you think, would like explained, what you would like to know about or even if you need help on something, just let me know.
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About Eduardo Arellano

Eduardo es Coach Personal/Profesional y Formador con más de 14 añs de experiencia. Nacido y criado en Chicago, en la actualidad Eduardo reside en España donde ha desarrollado sus métodos actuales de formación. Eduardo posee un MBA de la Universidad de Nebrija y un Master en Comercio Internacional de la EOI además del título de Formador de Formadores y varias certificaciones y cualificaciones. Eduardo está muy solicitado tanto en España como en el resto del mundo, colabora con sus clientes para guiarlos en cómo realizar cambios personales o profesionales consiguiendo con rapidez que alcancen objetivos que nunca creyeron posibles. Sus métodos y técnicas permiten estimular el auto-conocimiento, ya sea con un pequeñ cambio en su forma de pensar o con un gran cambio en su carrera profesional o vida personal. Eduardo sirve de guía para conseguir el éxito.
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