Managing Resistance in the Workplace

Updated: Jul 20, 2018

Resistance is normal from time to time. I have done my share of resisting in various forms from procrastination to sabotage.  Managing Resistance requires understanding where the resistance is coming from. As a director in a behavioral health setting, probing or engaging to find out what the source of the resistance is came naturally  for me.   So here is what you can do:

-ask questions that will keep the conversation open

-genuinely try to related to the other persons view point.

after you recognize the action  that is a part of the resistance (avoiding, poor response, poor performance), try to connect it to the feeling that the person may be experiencing (angry, doubtful, overwhelmed).

-offer new information to try to get them to a higher place with their current feeling. Keep trying to join with the person until they are at least neutral. Neutural cuts down on the negative conversations that influence weaker co-workers.

Here’s an example using something we have all heard or said-

“we can’t do that.”

Response-I don’t understand.  Tell me what’s on your mind.

“If it doesn’t work, things will be worst. It’s a bad idea.” (this person is against something)

Response- Let’s talk about the risk that you see because it may help us avoid them. or This may work even better if you show us how you think it should be done.

(here you are just trying to get the person from against to neutral)

Practice with more common statements of resistance such as:

“We already tried that and it didn’t work.”

Of course you have to address resistance with confidence. Sometimes you have to say something like this in a CALM way.

“It’s ok for you to disagree, so I’m not leaving until you are comfortable enough to tell me everything that you have said to anybody else about your doubts.”

I hope this helps. Please share your successes  so that we can help each other.


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