4 Hacks for Dealing with Difficult People
You know the difficult type – always resisting your requests. People tend to avoid new ideas and change whenever they can and oppose them when they can’t. Any request that people do things differently has the potential to be met with resistance. As a leader, you need to understand where the opposition is coming from, address any strong emotions head-on, and focus on finding common ground.
At work, you must be skilled at overcoming resistance to effectively align teams with organizational strategy, increase customer satisfaction, and implement new systems and processes. If you don’t address sources of resistance early on and show people that you’re on their side, their negativity can spread. What started as a single resistant individual can grow into an entire resistance movement in the organization and undermine your ability to achieve organizational goals.
Overcoming resistance means eliminating people’s reluctance to change by addressing their fears and objections and convincing them to take action. In our extensive research and testing of nearly 800 executives for The Leader Habit, my team and I discovered the micro-behaviors that effective leaders do to overcome resistance.
Exercise #1: Address Fears
Resistance usually comes from strong negative emotions, such as when people feel threatened by change or fear it. Acknowledging these negative emotions and helping people to name them is an effective way to overcome resistance.
- Exercise: Get in the habit of asking about people’s fears and reluctance using this exercise: After noticing even the slightest resistance, ask a question to learn about the person’s concerns by saying, “Can you tell me what about this may not feel right to you?”
- Solution: For example, a colleague may show slight resistance in the form of an “I agree with you, but …” statement, and you could ask, “Can you tell me what about this doesn’t feel right to you?”
Exercise #2: Highlight Benefits of Change
On the rational level, resistance may also come from misunderstanding the change or a lack of awareness of its benefits. You can practice selling individuals on the benefits of change using this exercise:
- Exercise: After identifying a procedure that you need to change, ask yourself, “How will people benefit from changing this workflow?” Please write it down in one sentence.
- Solution: For example, the benefit of streamlining your quality assurance process would be that employees have fewer checklists to fill out, resulting in less required overtime.
Exercise #3: Find Two Areas of Agreement
This micro-behavior requires making a conscious effort to periodically summarize areas of agreement during a discussion, which demonstrates to the other person that you are on his side, not his enemy.
- Exercise: Practice this exercise: After starting a conversation, focus on finding two areas of agreement. Summarize each one as soon as you discover it by saying, “It seems to me that we agree on …, is that correct?”
- Solution: For example, you could agree that you are both committed to addressing the issue under discussion, and you both want to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the problem.
Exercise #4: Identify and Highlight Shared Goals
It is easier to overcome resistance to convince people that action is linked with their career and/or development goals.
- Exercise: Use this exercise to practice identifying shared goals: After finishing a meeting, write down one goal that you share with the other people involved in the discussion.
- Solution: For example, your shared goal could be to have a smooth product launch or increase customer satisfaction.
By making these behaviors part of your daily routine, you will be on your way to overcoming resistance and avoiding the spread of negativity. Want to learn how you can put the right leaders in place to lead your organization through times of change? Request a Consult, and we’ll be in touch to see how you can prepare your organization for your ever-changing future.‹ Previous PostNext Post ›