Considering a Change in Direction? How to Deal with Non-Believers


Career growth can be both an exhausting and exhilarating experience.

You have already dealt with the internal struggle — realizing that a change was necessary. Then, there is both the commitment and possible sacrifice necessary to ensure that real change occurs. (You may be juggling coursework or tackling a stretch assignment in addition to your assigned tasks).

We expect that the process will be challenging.

However, it can be disconcerting that the most surprising aspect of ordeal, are those around us who just cannot seem to get on-board. Already well outside your comfort zone — it can be difficult to squelch all of the “nay-saying” from those around you. Those that just cannot seem to let you evolve.

How do you handle individuals who are less than supportive? The off-handed remarks and the reminders of the obstacles that may come. Remember that you can’t change others or how they see your path. However, you can filter their remarks.
Consider these points:

  • Some people will not see what you see. Goals are very personal. Explaining why you seem to be flinging yourself toward shaky ground, can seem frightening to some. Remember that you are the only that truly understands why you need to embark on this journey.
  • Jealousy does exist. Career bravery on your part — can sometimes elicit a note of career envy from others. Watching others make progress can be hard to digest for some.
  • Ubiquitous disengagement. There are many people who are unhappy with their own role, yet do not recognize where they are. Do not allow their malaise to affect your resolve.
  • Some people are mean. Shocking, but true. There are individuals who just do will not play nice. They will revel in pointing out the obvious (that change is hard) and will never offer credit, when it is due.

What to do next:

  • Consider the feedback. Try to take the stance that all feedback is useful. Listen to all that is said, but process the information carefully.
  • Tell them what you need. Just as Don Draper expressed in Mad Men, if the conversation is headed in the wrong direction — “change the conversation”. When skepticism and doubt are all that is presented, remind them that the journey is challenging and solicit their support.
  • Plan your re-brand “roll out”. Any career shift certainly requires a re-branding “roll out”. Plan to inform others about your new direction and how it might affect your work. Try developing an “elevator pitch” that nicely explains where you are headed.
  • Let it go. In some cases, you need to simply ignore the negativity and move on. There are those who hold a “fixed mindset” and do not believe that people can evolve successfully. Prove them wrong, then lend support to others who also aspire to evolve.

Have you ever met resistance when you were venturing onto a new career path? What strategies worked for you?

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. Read more of her posts at LinkedIn.

2 thoughts on “Considering a Change in Direction? How to Deal with Non-Believers

  1. Thank you so much for this post! I’m in month six of a pretty significant career shift, and I’m finding many of my friends and colleagues from my past career (of 10 years or so!) are flat out disappearing. It’s disheartening and discouraging. Your post is shedding some light on why this may be and what to do about it. I really appreciate it!


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