I’ve seen and heard a lot of coaching B.S. over the years, but some of the most damaging “advice” or “coaching” I’ve witnessed stems from a few basic myths about resistance. Sure, there are times it’s fear-based, but out of the hundreds of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees I’ve worked with directly, the majority were resistant because of one of the top 3 myths I list below.
1) Resistance is in the Eye of the beholder. (Only if you’re blind to your own intentions & expectations!) If you are coaching or mentoring someone and you feel they are being resistant, check yourself. Check your energy, intention and the way you are communicating. It may be that the person is resisting YOU and your energy. Yeah, not exactly fun to look at, but we ALL have shadow run the show sometimes – and if you’re meeting with resistance in relationships, look in the mirror – it might be you.
You most likely mean well, and have even reminded the person of what they told you they wanted to accomplish – but if you become more invested than they are in reaching their goals (which can happen very easily if their performance is somehow influencing your position or paycheck) then your energy will come across as pushy or controlling. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t resist that kind of force!
2) Resistance is driven by fear. Not always! It can also have to do with misalignment that the person may or may not be consciously aware of. I’ve seen it with Human Design, someone doesn’t know their design, they are being asked to do something that doesn’t feel right to them, but they aren’t sure why it doesn’t feel right. The coach or mentor assumes that the person is afraid or is ‘hiding’ or “doesn’t want it bad enough” (the most BS manipulative sentence ever to be spoken in a coaching relationship). When the person finds out what actually WILL WORK for them and their design they are more than happy to take action – and it feels good too!
Take some time to find out how your client, employee, or team member works and help them discern what they REALLY want. If they “don’t want something bad enough” it’s likely whatever they initially said they wanted isn’t what they TRULY desire to be, have, or accomplish.
3) Resistance is ego-driven. In my experience, resistance can also be driven by an intuitive knowing. Often it’s an intuitive knowing that it’s simply not the right time, or the right action to take in the moment – or it may not be the right person to act with! Discernment here can be tricky and often is in hindsight, but I’ve found when I honor that spidey-sense in myself and others, it usually turns out right and flows better than if I had forced it and done what someone else wanted me to do because THEY (or I) felt I needed to overcome resistance and act immediately.
Ask yourself and/or your client/mentee: “What’s your intuition say about timing? Is it the right action, wrong person (or vice versa)?” Ask more questions. Get curious about resistance. What information and insight does it have for you or those you work with?
I’m curious…what other myths have you encountered with resistance?
For a fantastic resource on working with resistance check out Motivational Interviewing(book & method). Back when I worked at the University of Washington in psych research we used it quite effectively with drug-addicted homeless youth on the streets of Seattle…a population most would consider the epitome of “resistant”.