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Handling resistance


Resistance is opposition.

It can take the shape of opposition to

  • Your idea

  • Your role

  • Change you want to bring about

We resist resistance because it slows our progress. It makes it harder to realise our ambition or agenda.

How does one handle resistance resourcefully?

In his book, Flawless Consulting, Peter Block talks about the forms of resistance and how to over come them.

  1. Notice the forms of resistance

Resistance comes in different shapes and forms namely:

  • Asking/Giving more details

  • Timing is nor right

  • Unrealistic

  • Attack

  • Confusion

  • Silence

  • Theoretical/ Philosophical discussions

  • Compliance

The ability to spot resistance in its multitude forms, helps you to respond better.

Don't forget to listen to your own body for resistance as well.


2. Understand where the resistance is coming from?

Most often, resistance is an offshoot of an internal need game that's going on in the minds of the receiver/ client/ colleague/ manager.

The game could be about

  • Control

  • Vulnerability

  • Helplessness

  • Alienation

  • Being dependent/ powerless

  • Unsolicited change


3. Handling resistance

After noticing the form of resistance and the need behind it, name the resistance without it being a biased opinion or a punishment.

When we label the resistance we acknowledge the elephant in the room.

We also have a handle to move it around.

Once the resistance is labelled, listen in silence.

eg: I hear a lot of questions on the "how" of this method. Do you have doubts on the credibility of the results that this method generates?

You seem to look drained. Do you have other priorities that are stopping you from contributing into this project?

What's your worst fear about going forward with the change?

In order to actually do Step 3, you need to

  • Detach yourself from the outcome

  • Build a space between you and your idea/proposal

What works for you to overcome resistance?

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