After my Mom’s partial hip replacement in late July 2009, I recognized the resistance I was relying on while engaging with her. Mom’s default position when she experiences tough times in various forms is to want to die. “You know what I want. I want to be dead,” is her mantra. In response, I have used words to encourage her to want to live. I offer her something to look forward to, such as returning to her day enrichment program. I tell her that God will call her when he’s ready for her to help all the people he has close, and for now God wants her to help all the people who are alive. Indeed, when Mom is less depressed she only thinks about helping others.

How was my resistance to hearing Mom’s mantra serving her or myself? The exchanges only reinforced each of our positions, mentally, emotionally and physically. I was not meeting her where she was. We did not connect as well as usual.

For years as an organizational change consultant I worked with groups that were steeped in resistance to leadership change or technology change. Recognizing that resistance, naming it, spending time with it, exploring its benefits and costs and embracing it were essential to moving through it and forward to acceptance of the new leadership team and new technologies in the workplace.

Resistance is often more easily recognized when working with individuals than with groups, and is such a valuable place from which to get traction. In helping business coaching and personal coaching clients master the art of thriving in tough times, resistance appears early on in the coaching relationship.

After a week together with Mom, I was gob-smacked when I recognized I was operating from full on resistance. Here is what I did and the results.

- Action: After she repeated her mantra the night of my recognition, I said, “Yes. That is how you feel. I have been responding to you from my perspective. I don’t have your perspective and don’t have your life experiences. I understand and accept as best I can from your perspective.”
- Outcome: I could feel her upper body relaxing, her voice was a bit fuller and I sensed she was calmer. So was I.

Tip: Pay attention to when you find yourself working to persuade someone or influence someone rather than easily engaging in a conversation. This is a sign of resistance.

Author's Bio: 

Isn't it time to get what you want? To be heard. To connect. To have lasting business and personal relationships. To experience freedom.

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