Overcoming Resistance

March 15, 2017 by in category Business, BusinessLife, Culture tagged as , , , with 0 and 0


Resistance is the most common cause of failure or stagnancy in organizations, from the largest corporation to an individual entrepreneur. It can be resistance to change, resistance to newness, and resistance to the unknown. This pushback manifests in different ways, in different stages, in every company, and in every person.

However, resistance can drastically and negatively impact innovation and development moving forward. It can prohibit growth and damage the overall organizational culture.

Do any of the following statements sound familiar to you?

  • “I can’t do it.”
  • “I’ve never done it before.”
  • “I don’t have the time.”
  • “What if it doesn’t work?”

As BusinessLife coaches, we face clients with these sorts of challenges every day. Often people approach us because they feel they are not growing or developing in their professional life. We often find that the reason for this lack of development is their underlying resistance or opposition to certain aspects of business.

The only way to grow, then, is to overcome resistance.

Where does business resistance come from?

Resistance can be expected at all levels of an organization: from a single individual to an entire team, from the executive board to the entire business entity.

It often stems from significant cultural changes, such as the introduction of a new leader or team member, or the implementation of a new process. These changes are seen as perceived threats to the current style of work.

For example, when introducing a new, more efficient process to an experienced team of workers, they may feel resistant. They may feel more comfortable doing things the previous way, the way they’ve always done it, or they may be hesitant to change a process that has seemed to work just fine in the past.

But just fine isn’t good enough.

Another example could be the placement of a new CEO from another company. Employees may feel resistant to a leader coming in from the outside and making sweeping changes without knowing the business the way they do.

The damage of this resistance can be tremendous. Individuals or groups can feel slighted and hurt, which can lead to lowered productivity and perhaps even hostility in the workplace. It can make people decide not to make the change, which creates an uneven working environment and diminishes the effectiveness of the desired transformation. Ultimately, in the long run, resistance can damage the business culture, cost top talent, and lower profits.

The BusinessLife Global methodology of overcoming organizational resistance

It’s important for everyone in the company or department to understand where, how, and — most importantly — why and when changes are going to be made. There should be a strategy for effective communication at all levels, at all times.

Of course, no matter how much communication exists, some resistance is still expected. People have established thoughts, opinions, and ways of working. Change is disruptive, and humankind is programmed to avoid disruption.

But sometimes that disruption is necessary to the overall well-being of the company and the employees of the business. Thus, it is important that all individuals know the benefits for and the reasons behind the transformative decisions.

Ultimately, tact should be applied by handling all issues and alterations with respect for every individual in the company. Communication is key:

  • Invite people to bring forth suggestions.
  • Allow free-flowing conversations and brainstorming sessions. Don’t feel the need to always know the answer. You may not have the answer, and that’s alright, as long as you keep communication flowing.
  • Be accessible. Have an open door policy.
  • Ensure everyone knows that the previous way of doing things wasn’t wrong. Instead, frame it that the new way can be beneficial, and for what reasons.
  • Communication and free-flowing ideas can create a culture of innovation. With an ingrained culture of innovation, change is encouraged and happening all the time.

How do you overcome personal resistance?

Resistance isn’t always found in just a large, organizational setting. It happens in our daily lives, and it happens with single contractors or sole business owners as well.

As an entrepreneur, you may get caught up in your work. You may feel drained and exhausted, and so you don’t give certain parts of your business the time investment that it needs. You may be so focused on perfecting your product, for example, that you completely neglect marketing and content strategy—which drive people to the product on which you’re diligently working.

You may be worrying about the urgent while pushing off the necessary. Even though you are aware that you should do some updating, or some sort of work on the project, you set it aside or leave it until the urgent priorities are finished. You push them to the end of the day, and as a consequence, you never really get to them at your best. Ultimately, the reality is that your best is what these tasks require of you.

At this point, let’s revisit some Are You questions for a quick check-in:

  • Are you pushing it off because you feel you lack the skills to do that task?
  • Are you pushing it off because you don’t see the task as valuable?
  • Are you pushing it off because you are unsure where to begin?

Here at BusinessLife Global Coaching we firmly believe it is crucial to overcome these resistances. Without doing so, you will be stuck in the same rut day in and day out. You will never make the changes you have decided upon or considered your company needs in order to flourish.

Disabling and removing this resistance can take many forms. For example, it can be a combination of taking responsibility for your company and recognizing the tools you have available to you. It may be doing one thing per week that you don’t like doing but know that your business needs. It may even be outsourcing or hiring someone to get the job done.

It may take you a while to recognize your resistance and internalize it. In order to overcome, you should realize the urgency of the task and face it head on. What can this task do to grow your business? What’s holding you back from accomplishing it?

Overcoming resistance for growth

Resistance can manifest in many ways through many means. It can take different forms for different people, and it has unique causes for each individual. In order to overcome and conclude your resistance, you choose to recognize it, and with that choose to do something about it.


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