Scary versus dangerous

Things can be dangerous but not scary, like walking on thin ice when you think it is thick, or scary but not dangerous, like walking a high plank when you are on a safety wire. Or indeed, things can be both scary and dangerous!

We don’t like scary stuff. It is very uncomfortable, and one of the things we usually find scary is change. This is because our evolutionary background predisposes us to be wary of change.

If you want people to change what they do or do it differently, change will only occur when someone is prepared to accept a little scary stuff and the discomfort that comes with it.

Many people use discomfort signals as a sign to back away rather than engage, and so they limit their ability to change, even if their minds say they want to or should change.

They get confused between what is dangerous, and what is just scary.

Examine the new behaviours you want people to adopt and figure out, perhaps by asking trainees, whether those changes are scary and/or dangerous, and why they perceive them that way.

Also, examine the existing behaviours. It is unlikely that they will be scary, but they could be dangerous if continued.

How can you reframe the changes you want to reduce the resistance they generate in people due to the scary/dangerous thoughts they have?