Resistance: Control vs Embrace

[Awakenings Home Page] [ Return to Resistance ] [ Back ] [ Next ]




Controlling resistance

As the change agent there is a risk that you might collude with resistance by not seeking it out. Besides our typical ways of resisting, we also have typical response to resistance which is often to control it. If your typical reaction is not to seek out resistance and bring it to the light of day then you work against the change which you champion.

One typical controlling response to resistance is to ignore it. For example you might not explore   the silence hoping that  whatever it represents will go away. Other responses to resistance are:

  • Use power: Try to make people go along.
  • Use reason: Explain it once again in more detail.
  • Manipulate: Play one person against another and maybe it will work.
  • Use Relationships: Call in favors that you are owed.
  • Make Deals: Compromise and dilute the change.
  • Give up too soon: Lose motivation and quit.

These typical reactions view resistance as negative and something to be avoided or controlled. To give up such typical reactions you must see resistance in a different light. You must see resistance as bringing needed information and energy. Just as your resistance to personal change (weight loss and exercise) brought information so too does the resistance encountered in families and organizations.

Embracing Resistance

In order to find out what  information resistance brings you must be able to move towards and embrace resistance. Knowing that resistance is always present you seek it out. This is done in the context of strong working relationships which can sustain some give-and -take. If such relationship do not exist then they must be built. With strong relationships and a clear focus on the goals of the change and the need for discussion then resistance is embraced by trying to bring it out. In this context it is critical to maintain respect for those who resist. The working assumption is that they know something valuable that you do not. They view the change from a different perspective and see problematic issues. People who resist and are willing to confront you are valuable assets. Their energy alone is valuable. If their objections can be brought into the change while adding to it then their energy adds support to the process.

When there is resistance to change there is division into several camps all asking, "What is in it for me?" Embracing resistance is an attempt to change the question so that all parties are asking. "What is in it for us?" It is this question that will bring people together while mobilizing energy for change. When the reasons for change are broadly understood and the issue can be stated with clarity then the plan for action can be jointly created by all parties and together they can move into the implementation process.

[Awakenings Home Page] [ Return to Resistance ] [ Back ] [ Next ]