I’ve always been the kind of person who sets a goal and stays the course until I achieve it. Not too long ago I had a bike accident. Given the severity of the accident I was determined to find the best help for my recovery. And that meant finding the right practitioners. Along the way, someone told me about a doctor, who sounded like the perfect person. The problem was my medical profile didn’t dovetail with his practice — I didn’t have the “right” kind of injury. He wouldn’t see me.
At this point, I could easily have given up. Not me! I was determined to speak with him. I decided to go in person to his office and ask for five minutes of his time. All I wanted was five minutes. The receptionist was quite taken aback by my request — just five minutes of the doctor’s time. Her response: “The doctor is very busy. He usually doesn’t do that.” I politely, but assertively, explained that I understood how busy he must be. But I too am a busy person. However, if someone asked me for just five minutes of my time, I’d give it to the person.
Clearly my response struck a chord with her. As I stood there patiently, not saying anything, just looking her in the eye, she said, “I’ll see what I can do.” To make a long story (a little!) shorter, the doctor agreed to meet with me. While he did not take me on as a patient, he did refer me to the right person, who has helped me substantially.
Moral of my story? Persistence and persuasion are necessary skills in life. They pay off! Very often, reaching our goals requires using these skills to try to overcome someone else’s initial resistance. Probably, nowhere is this truer than in the business world. That’s the reason I think it’s key to consider the following tips so you are able to achieve your own goals in business:
Top Five Tips for Overcoming Resistance
1. Be Prepared:
Don’t wing it! When you approach someone with a request never count on inspiration striking. Instead, have a plan. Know in your own mind what you want to achieve, and have some idea of how you hope to achieve it.
2. Be Brave:
Accept that nervousness and fear are part of the human condition. But it’s perfectly possible to experience butterflies and still ask for what you want. Don’t give in to fear.
3. Be Polite:
Don’t confuse persistence with aggression. The latter may simply irritate the person on the receiving end. Your tone and body language will convey a great deal. Negativity has a tendency to reinforce resistance; positivity to encourage greater openness.
4. Be Yourself:
If you are genuine and sincere, people are more likely to lower their resistance. If you are manipulative or devious, people will eventually see through that behavior. If anything, they’re more likely to put up greater resistance to what you might ask of them.
5. Be Nuanced:
Even with a plan, even with having considered how best to approach someone who may be resistant, you still have to act in the moment. You have to watch and listen — then respond accordingly.
I’m not about to suggest that you will always be able to overcome resistance by applying the above ideas. But the fact is, you will have a much better chance of doing so if you are willing to take the risk and try. After all, the old cliché exists for a reason: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Want help with how to overcome resistance in business, I can help you master the necessary communication skills. Just contact me at The Language Lab.