On accepting change

As I’m fighting a losing battle against a swarm of carpet beetles that have taken over my apartment (carpet beetles: a gazillion, me: 1), I started thinking about the possibility of moving.

It was then that I realized, had it not been for these blasted beetles — well, and the lack of hot showering water, I probably would have stayed put…indefinitely.

But ask me a year ago if I would have willingly moved from a lovely modern loft with an open kitchen to a tiny converted motel room from the 50’s with a minibar for a fridge and no space to cook and I would have given you a blank stare of non-comprehension.

That’s how we are as humans.  We adapt.

Remember the uproar over every new Facebook profile change?  Yeah, me too, I forgot until I started writing this blog post.

But there are ways to make change a little bit more palatable.  What are they?

Make changes gradually.  It’s been proven that humans are conditioned to notice abrupt, not gradual changes.  This is because, from an evolutionary standpoint, abrupt environment changes were far more threatening to our survival than gradual changes. So stay under your users’ change radar by making lots of tiny changes over time.  While the phenomenon of inattention to gradual changes has been most commonly studied for visual stimuli, similar results have been found for other senses as well as things such as wealth and unethical behavior.

Justify your changes.  Just providing a reason makes requests more palatable.  In a study about justifications, researchers found that people were over 50% more willing to comply when given a reason — even if the reason wasn’t relevant.  Don’t get too carried away with non-relevant reasons though, especially if the change is major.  The same study found that only good reasons had a positive effect on compliance as the requests became larger.

Just do it anyway.  As much as people squawk about change (yours truly included), if you’re really convinced the change is needed, just do it.

Time.  When all else fails, the way the saying “time heals all wounds” is kinda true, “time helps angry customers forget” is also kinda true too.

So don’t hold back because you’re worried.  If a change is justified, do it!



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