Do people really hate to change?
Saturday, September 21, 2019
'It is often stated that people naturally hate change. That's not true. People don't hate to change, but they hate to lose.
If a change leads directly to an improvement of our situation, without costing us effort, pain or regrets, you'll never hear any complaint from anyone. If a change will only lead to a better situation in the long run, but asks for a personal investment - of time, money, energy, attention or of letting go of certainties and achievements - that's when it becomes a problem to change.' - Ben Tiggelaar.
Tiggelaar is the author of the Dutch book 'Dromen, durven, doen'. (The title can be translated as: 'To dream, to dare, to do').
He mentions the 'loss-aversion' described by researcher Daniel Kahneman. All people, no matter what culture they're from, have this aversion of loss in common. On average, it turns out that a loss hits a person two-and-a-half time as hard as a compatible reward pleases us.
This means that if they can earn a hundred euro's most people are willing to walk one kilometer (metric system used here!). But if they risk losing that one hundred euro's later on, they're prepared to walk 2.5 kilometer to keep it!
Danger and threats are much more motivating than rewards. It's assumed this has to do with our strong instinct to survive.
Many of us have learnt that it's important to rephrase a PROBLEM in terms of a CHALLENGE or an OPPORTUNITY, but, says Tiggelaar, that's not true. The motivating power of a real problem is much stronger than the motivating power of an opportunity.
It might be more effective to ask yourself, with every opportunity that you see, what problem it will solve.
In the rest of the chapter, Tiggelaar points out that while threats and danger are strong motivators to change, it's not a good idea to use punishment to get a person (or yourself) to change. Threats and punishments just have too many disadvantages. People tend to only work hard to avoid a danger or threat until the biggest problem has gone; then they'll fall back in their old behaviors.
It's better to use rewards, it's been shown since the 1960's that rewards - 'positive reinforcement - work better to create change than punishment. There are a few rules though, says Tiggelaar:
* Rewards must be given during or right after the desired behavior.
* Rewards must match the desire of the receiver of the reward.
* If a person chose on his own to perform a certain task, because he likes to do it, it's not wise to reward that performance with a large material reward. Chances are that this will cause the person to from then on, only make the effort to get the reward.
* Social rewards - a smile, a compliment - don't present this risk, they're free, and they also improve the relationship.