14 Strategies to Overcome Other’s Resistance to Change
Have you ever tried to convince your friend to stop smoking and got a “whatever” look in return? Or have you ever tried to make your boss and co-workers understand and accept your suggestion, but they all quickly dismissed it, even though you turned out to be right?
Why do people refuse to change their opinion or behavior even though it is in their best interests to do so? Why do they not listen to sound reason and do not act as we want them to act?
The answer to these questions is simple – resistance to change.
Here are 14 Great Strategies that allow you to overcome people’s prejudices and inner resistance and make them consider your point of view:
1. Speak with authority. Self-confidence is the key to making people listen to your point of view. The more you believe in your idea the more convincing you will be when talking about it, the more people will value your opinion.
2. Make sure that you know what you are talking about. If you tell your friend that they should not eat after 6 p.m. it will not be nearly as convincing as if their dietician told them this. Being viewed as an expert in a certain area is a huge advantage in making people consider your opinion and follow your advice. And to gain a reputation as an expert, you must know what you are talking about. Therefore, make sure that you back up your ideas and suggestions with solid facts and numbers.
3. Give the reason WHY? You might be saying something very intelligent and important, but it is not a good enough reason for most people to listen to you. Why should they listen to you? Why should they follow your advice? What is in it for them? When talking to other people, try to put yourself in their shoes and give them concrete and specific benefits of listening to your suggestions and implementing them.
4. Educate people. People will seldom admit it, but usually the biggest obstacle to change is fear of failure. Even if deep down we might agree that change would be “good”, we might still resist it, because we think it is too complicated to understand or implement. Educate people and show them what needs to be done and how.
5. Show them the consequences of their behavior. People will only take active steps towards change if they genuinely believe that the risks of standing still are greater than those of moving forward in a new direction. Sometimes the best way to motivate people into action is to show them what they can lose if they keep doing what they have always done.
6. Give them some kind of proof. Even the biggest skeptics can accept new beliefs and ideas if you have clear evidence to prove your point of view. The more facts you can provide to strengthen your argument, the easier it will be for you to convince another person. If other people can back up your opinion, even better!
7. Find real-life examples. For most people, seeing is believing. Very often you can overcome people’s doubts and resistance to change, by telling them about those who have done what you propose and got great results.
8. Create a sense of urgency. Sometimes we do not do what we know is good for us for the one simple reason – we do not have time for it! It is easy to get lost in every day worries and put our personal goals at the end of the list. Your task is to help another person realize the importance of change and the necessity of taking action as soon as possible.
9. Make sure you do not undermine anyone’s beliefs. As soon as people feel that your idea or proposed change threatens their beliefs and core values, they immediately become defensive and stop listening to you. Keep in mind that people do not resist change as much, as they resist being changed. If you disagree with something a person says or does, criticize the action, not the person them self.
10. Ask good questions. It is a lot easier for us to accept and believe in a certain idea, if we feel that we have discovered it ourselves rather than being told what to believe in. The best strategy to make another person change their point of view is to ask good leading questions. Instead of saying, “This is what you need to do”, ask “What do you think would be the best course of action?”, “Do you think doing the following could work?” Asking the right questions is a skill, but almost anyone can learn it!
11. Be prepared for resistance. Not everyone will appreciate your help and welcome your suggestions. Be prepared that another person might criticize and disagree with you. Do not argue, because it will lead nowhere! Instead listen carefully to what the other person has to say and try to see the situation through their eyes. That way you can find out what the objections are and think of how to handle them.
12. Respect a different opinion. If you expect another person to listen and agree with your opinion, be prepared to do the same. Even if you feel that another person is 100% wrong, it does not give you the right to put them down or mock them. The only goal you can achieve with sarcasm or sneers is greater resistance and hostility.
13. Understand motivation behind behavior. The greatest human motivator is emotion – both positive (love, appreciation, desire to succeed) and negative (anxiety, guilt, fear of failure). People usually change their behavior only 1) when they feel good about changing or 2) bad about not making those changes. If your goal is to convince another person to change, the most effective way to do it is to build your arguments on their primary motivators, not on your personal desires and beliefs.
14. Do not get emotionally attached to your ideas. I realize that your ideas, beliefs and opinions are close to you. But the truth is that you and I, just like everyone else, can be wrong. Sometimes people are not being stubborn, or close-minded, or foolish, or short-sighted when they resist our suggestions. They just have genuine and rational reservations or objections. Do not get emotionally attached to your ideas or try to force them onto others. Keep your mind opened for counter-arguments and feedback (even if it is a negative feedback).
“Right, wrong and truth are not absolutes…they're perspectives.” – Holly Smith