There's a one-word reason most ideas never see the light of day: Resistance.

Resistance is often behind the glassy-eyed stares you get following a presentation, the sarcastic put-downs you have to put up with when you describe your vision for a new product or service, and people's abrupt departures from the water cooler when you approach, enthusiastic and ready
to share an idea. What people are saying to you, either directly or indirectly, is "I've heard your idea and I don't get it, I don't like it, or I don't like you."

Resistance to new ideas and change is inevitable; however, by understanding what's causing it, you can learn to turn people's initial opposition into support. Here's what the three most common forms of resistance look like:

. Level 1 resistance-"I don't get it." When you see a person's eyes glaze over or eyebrows furrow, he is sending you an unspoken message: "I don't get what you're saying." That's your cue to slow down and touch base with the person before he gets so confused or lost in the morass of your idea that he loses interest altogether. Level 1 resistance generally involves the world of facts, figures, and data.

. Level 2 resistance-"I don't like it." Sometimes your idea can trigger an emotional response, typically rooted in fear, that causes another person to hem and haw about the idea or actively oppose it. Some of the fears underlying these Level 2 responses include: Concern that something about your idea will make the other person look bad or lose status in the eyes of others; worry that your idea will cost the person his job or endanger his financial security; and nervousness that your idea will cause the other person to fail.

. Level 3 resistance-"I don't like you." While the other two types of resistance have to do with your ideas, Level 3 resistance is about you-your history with others, and their bias against, prejudice against, or mistrust of you.

To deal effectively with all levels of resistance, step outside yourself and try to see and hear yourself as others perceive you. Other helpful tips for managing the three levels of resistance include:

. Converse, don't present. Ask questions to find out what's going on in the other person's mind and why she opposes your idea.
. Listen carefully to what others say in response to your idea-both verbally and through their body language and behaviors.
. Avoid knee-jerk reactions, like defensiveness, sarcasm, and deference.
. Find ways to connect with others. Make it clear that there's room-and opportunity-for others to join you as you move forward in developing and implementing an idea.

Resistance is good because it demonstrates that others hear you and are intrigued enough about your ideas to oppose them. That may sound like cold comfort, but it's not. Figure out what's behind resistance and you'll be well on your way to turning opposition into support.

Author's Bio: 

Rick Maurer is an Arlington, Virginia-based advisor to individuals and organizations on building support for change. He is author of Why Don't You Want What I Want? How to Win Support for Your Ideas Without Hard Sell,Manipulation, or Power Plays (Bard Press, $16.95). C 2002 Rick Maurer. All rights reserved.