The survey also shows that Danes feel that they are expected to be adaptable and ready for change, both at work and in their personal lives as parents. These expectations are perceived to come from superiors and executive management at the workplace as well as from children’s schools. And it would seem that Danes have adapted to these expectations as 45% of Danes state that they view themselves to be ready for change with only marginal differences between genders and age groups.
However, when going deeper into the findings of the survey, it is interesting to note that across genders and age groups:
- 42% state that they in fact do not like change
- 50% prefer status quo
- 64% state that they prefer to solve a problem with a proven and well-known method
But when asked about a specific situation, e.g. their reaction to the implementation of a new IT system at work, the majority of respondents used positive words such as open, inquisitive and motivated to describe their own reaction (32%, 30% and 23% respectively).
Could it be that these seemingly contradictory statements in fact hint at a more profound truth? Could it be that we have all learnt to say and do the right things, i.e. we have learnt that we should be open to change and that adaptability is good, and status quo is bad, but we have never really learnt to love it? As human beings, we have a natural resistance to change, which is in potential conflict with the rapid transformation of the world around us. Perhaps it is not so surprising that the World Health Organisation, WHO, predicts that stress and depression will be some of the leading causes of disability across the globe by 2020.
Status quo is gone for good, and we should not necessarily bemoan that fact. Change has brought a lot of opportunities to us as both individuals and societies, but the survey could be regarded as a sign that we have to find new ways of viewing and talking about change. Perhaps a positive first step could be to make it acceptable to say out loud that we do not like change, and that we feel uncomfortable in times of change. That resistance to change is actually perfectly natural, and that it does not necessarily make us less desirable as employees, managers or citizens.
Once we have realised that we are all in the same boat and many of our fellow passengers on that boat would also prefer to be elsewhere, maybe we will begin to feel a stronger sense of community and to be more accepting of our own and other people’s feelings of resistance and uncertainty.
Perhaps then will we truly begin to dare to feel more open, inquisitive and motivated for change?