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Overcoming resistance

March 4, 2016


Overcoming resistance can be one of the key challenges for leaders and managers. Despite the use of consultation, influence, persuasion, negotiation some staff seem determined to keep things as they are.


Of course sometimes, they are right to do this and the leader or manager should pay attention to their views rather than change. Then there are times

when the underlying reasoning could be more deep rooted.



  •  Fear that the change will make things worse

  • Lack of recognition for accomplishing change

  • Low involvement in planning change

  • Perceived hassle, relative to gains

  • Lack incorporation of change into daily-work patterns  

  • People’s current level of stress 





So resistance should first be understood before attempting to change or challenge it. 


So how does the coaching leader overcome resistance?


Simply, through enquiry.


Below are some questions that can identify the barriers to resilience and potentially enable movement.

  • What's stopping you?

  • How would you like things to be?

  • What's working about the ways things are done?

  • What could be different?

  • If there were to be an alternative way, what might that be?

  • What would need to be different for you to accept this?

  • If this were implemented, when you would like to see a review happen?

  • What would tell you this had worked? 


Some phrases may include:


"As you have identified what won't work, do you know what will?"



Assuming the other person does not give an alternative option for the leader/manager to take into account, a phrase that can assist the leader might be:


"On the basis there isn't an alternative yet, I suggest we see this through and review in ... (period of time)" 


The 2 key points here are the use of 'yet' and 'review'.


'Yet' indicates the option to continue to explore the possibilities is still there, and the 'review' gives some piece of mind that an implemented change is not necessarily permanent.


Of course there are always the skills of persuasion and negotiation but these can leave a person knowing they have been persuaded or at worst manipulated. 



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