Dealing with Resistance

January 2009
by Jamie Showkeir and Maren Showkeir

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Dealing with Resistance

by Jamie Showkeir and Maren Showkeir

People in organizations must constantly manage difficult and unwelcome changes and other demands that emerge in unexpected ways. Individuals faced with such circumstances are going to have strong feelings, particularly when the changes affect or threaten them. And they are likely to respond—one on one or in groups—with the camouflaged or indirect expressions of concern known as resistance, which can make it difficult, if not impossible, to face difficulties, navigate change, reach decisions, and resolve problems.

To deal with resistance, you have to recognize it, decide when to confront it, and then learn effective ways of calling it out and refocusing on the content of the pertinent conversation. Ignoring resistance never makes it disappear—it persists and usually gets stronger until it is confronted.

The purpose of dealing with resistance is to get a direct expression of underlying emotions, concerns, or reservations, so that everyone involved can focus on the content of the conversation, or to explicitly change the conversation’s content to something that is relevant and clear to all. It is not therapy. Nor is it an attempt to persuade someone to feel different or get over their feelings.

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