Comfort of Habit & Fear of Change

"Know, or know not. Do not guess" Photo courtesy of

“Know, or know not. Do not guess.”
Photo courtesy of

There’s a reason beliefs are cherished. They provide comfort. By nature, people prefer stability and resist change.

Some beliefs are grand in scope — about the role of government and religion in individuals’ lives, about what’s acceptable behavior and what’s not. Some are less grand, but they’re part of the fabric of society, and the unraveling of a single thread is a threat.

Recently, economists in the U.S. and England cast doubt on the belief that home ownership provides absolute benefits. They found unemployment rises in lockstep with home ownership. As regions become more settled, they are less hospitable to innovation and job creation.

True or not, the findings will fall on deaf ears. It’s not something people want to hear, and they’re so busy trying to get their slice of the pie — their home — that they can’t be bothered.

All of which underlines our thesis: Once people are comfortable, the familiar is desired. The new is uncertain and unsettling.

Ironically, people are fascinated with scandals, with the newest gossip about celebrities, with the latest twists on reality TV shows. But all that change is transitory and outside their realm. It doesn’t affect their lives, or they wouldn’t embrace it so eagerly.

What’s this got to do with Crisis & Reputation Management? A lot, actually. Understanding the psychology of society is vital. You can’t effectively influence if you don’t know what levers to pull and what buttons to push.

What story will the public find plausible, reassuring, convincing? What will strain credulity and undermine your reputation?

No time to equivocate. Certainly no time to test ideas in focus groups. To paraphrase Yoda, “Know, or know not. Do not guess.”

You’ve got one chance to get it right. Don’t squander it.


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Los Angeles-based public relations firm that specializes in high-stakes Crisis & Reputation Management. If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog Insights on High-Stakes PR. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.


3 thoughts on “Comfort of Habit & Fear of Change

  1. Great post, Roger. So true. We grow best by leaving our comfort zones, by continuing to change it up. Those things that we thought changed us and that we would never forget become part of the forgotten water we swim in!

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