Framing our constituencies

There are patterns in how we approach changing other people. We come from different places with different assumptions about who gets changed and how change happens. It appears that some patterns work better than others. Some approaches create the resistance they try to overcome. Choosing the way we frame the process of changing can facilitate the transformation of our educational systems, business enterprises and cultural stories.

Pushed vs. pushy: When a constituency appears to be stagnant, the instigators of change become belligerent. Passivity engenders hostility. Obsequiousness is a breeding ground for obnoxiousness. Doormats bring out the bully in those who want changes to happen ASAP. Those wallowing in self pity, powerlessness and victim stories will experience the imposed change effort as disastrous, disruptive and profoundly inconsiderate.

Pushing vs. pushing back: When a constituency appears defiant, the instigators escalate their change efforts. A competition ensues over which side can be the most stubborn, determined and controlling. Tactics erupt to intimidate the opponents, back them into a corner and penalize them for their "lack of cooperation". The struggle for power is self perpetuating with no end in sight. The closed loop learns nothing from the short and long term effects on each side. Whatever is being resisted gets "persisted" with a vengeance.

Pulling vs. pushing: When a constituency appears to voice legitimate concerns and share long-term interests, the instigators let go of making changes happen. They "get off their opponent's case", "out of their face" and "into their corner. They help the others succeed, meet their needs and serve their valuable objectives. Pulling for our constituencies "creates buy-in" to follow our unimposing lead. The followers push for the change while the leader pulls for the new pushers. It's apparent how our serving them comes back around to serve the change process and our shared interests. The set-up is reciprocal. We reap what we sow.

Evolving vs. pulling: When a constituency appears to be continually evolving, the instigators join the party. Both are changing by learning from each other, personal reflecting and significant happenstance. There are times to let the changes unfold and times to help others get their needs met. There are no fears that changing will stop or go off in a useless direction. All reactions, eruptions and agendas are good for the continual process that's evolving. It's all something to learn from, put to use and see from different perspectives.

As you may discern from how I've framed the process of changing, the way we characterize our constituencies may be a fateful decision. We can orchestrate our experience of making changes by how we see others. This suggests that what happens is "all in our minds". "Change our mind and we change our world"; or as Gandhi advised: "Be the change we want to see in the world".


  1. Steve Roesler10/23/2007 11:20 PM

    Hi, Tom,

    You've got me thinking about the constituency factor and the ensuing behaviors.

    If we can change our actions by changing how we characterize our constituencies, then we really have to change ourselves first, eh? In order to reap the proper outcome of that which we sow, our own seeds are the key ingredient.

    Keep writing...

  2. Thanks Steve
    Getting to the point of seeing how we "reap what we sow" is a big change in itself. It appears to be human nature to want to change others rather than ourselves and to make change happen by taking actions against apparent resistance. We've all got a lot to learn :-)