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The best opportunity for dealing with resistance is for leaders to reason with the resistors. Bargaining, manipulating, using power, and ignoring are not only ineffective strategies, they can actually make resistance worse in that resistors may step up their resistance, go underground, or go guerilla by spreading rumors, undermining efforts, and engaging in subtle sabotage.

When it comes to resistance, it is easy to work with those who listen to reason. It is also helpful to view resistance in a positive light in that it helps identify potential barriers to making change work, and it increases the odds of building support. Without resistance, there is no change. Involvement is a useful tool for overcoming resistance. People have a need to feel that their contributions matter. When they are engaged and inspired, they are more apt to volunteer their commitment to leaders and organizations. Treating resistance with respect opens the doors to communication, improves problem solving, and establishes credibility. Pushing back against resistance creates barriers. Asking questions to reveal the resistance provides opportunities to create context.

There are at least seven specific types of resistance, and there are tactics for dealing with them that are unique to each. The seven types are:

  1. Know-it-alls

  2. Argumentative

  3. Bad attitude

  4. Shy clam

  5. Skeptic

  6. Grudge carrier

  7. Group favorite

When confronted with a know-it-all, Pennington suggests trying to encourage others in the group to comment on the individual’s remarks. If someone is argumentative, keep cool and make sure the participants do so as well. Ask the individual with a bad attitude to share ideas about how to make the change work. Ask the shy clam a question that is likely to be answered well and then praise the individual. Convey to the skeptic that there are always challenges in implementing any change. Avoid discussion about the grudge carrier’s pet peeve. Finally, try to discuss issues without referring specifically to the group favorite.

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