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The Nature of Opposition


Disciplines > Change Management > Stakeholders in change > The Nature of Opposition

Drivers | Perceptions | Potential | Triggers | See also


When considering stakeholders who are opposing the change, do a deep analysis of their personality to give you better ability to manage their opposition and convert them to the cause of the change.

This analysis should help you to decide whether and how you might convert the person to the change cause or, if they are implacable opponents, how you might control or contain their opposition.



Beliefs are basic drivers of thought and behavior. If you can understand their beliefs, you can begin to change them.

  • What are their beliefs about people? Their rights? Their capabilities?
  • What beliefs do they have about themselves?
  • How strongly do they hold these beliefs?
  • What are the beliefs that they have that led them to oppose the change?
  • What beliefs do they have that could be used to help convert them?


Values are guides and shapers of behavior that tell what is right and wrong, good and bad, important and unimportant. Understanding a person's values tells you what they will not do as much as what they will do.

  • Are any of their values being transgressed by change actions?
  • What are their stress values? Are these being triggered?
  • What values can you appeal to, to persuade them to change?


Goals are the deliberate objectives that we set ourselves to satisfy values and needs. By identifying these and how they are affected by change, you can

  • What are their career goals?
  • What are their social goals?
  • What other goals do they have?
  • How are any of these affected by the change?


The perceptions that people have of the change is based on their internal systems and the inferences they make. Perception is reality for the person, even it if is not really true. It therefore makes sense to understand how they perceive the change.

  • What are their perceptions of the change? What do they think will happen?
  • What are their perceptions of other stakeholders in the change? Do they think others will help them? Do they think others will gain unfair advantage?
  • What are their perceptions of those implementing the change? Do they think the change agents will be fair? Do they think they are competent?


A critical question about opponents of change is what they can and are likely do to oppose the change.

  • What power do they have?
  • What is the source of that power? (position, expertise, social, etc.)
  • How might they use that power? (blocking, persuading others, etc.)
  • What would the impact of that action be? (local, widespread, etc.)
  • How might their power change?


And when you understand the power that a person who is opposing or may oppose the change, the final step is to understand their triggers, those events that would tip them into action.

  • What would lead them to use that power? (events, actions, etc.)
  • What would defuse them beforehand? (involvement, listening, etc.)
  • What would bring them down after they had started resisting? (listening, threats, etc.)
  • Who do they listen to? (friends, social leaders, senior people, etc.)
  • What could other people do to contain or convert them? (words, action, etc.)

See also

The nature of support, Preferences, Games

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