Chapter 8Dealing with Resistance: Having the Right Conversation in Difficult Situations

Phil Grosnick

We all talk about resistance to change as if it were a law of nature. True, we all have feelings about change, but when we talk about “overcoming” resistance, we approach it as an enemy instead of an ally. In this article, Phil details a way to embrace resistance and use it as a step toward a more intimate relationship with a client that is wide enough to contain our fears as well as our hopes. The context is to focus on the conversation as the mixing bowl for what we plan to create.

Pay attention to Phil’s voice. He writes in the first person and speaks to you, the reader, as he would a client. In reading this you will know what it feels like to work with Phil. He consistently makes a choice about his own reactions and behavior, which allows him to stay with the client emotionally. This is more than a writing style; it is a stance in life that places the consultant on an equal level with the client. It creates a world where each player is in the business of learning and the learning takes place as we go. This creates a balanced power between consultant and client, a relationship of political equity. This stance may be as important as any particular style or skill that the consultant brings to the table.

One of the hardest things for me to accept as a consultant learning the craft was that difficult meetings with clients weren’t necessarily “bad,” and that easy meetings weren’t ...

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