5 Ways to Beat Resistance and Boost Your Influence

Jan 27, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

There are some things you are an expert in.  We all have things we have studied or experienced that we are very knowledgeable about or good at.  It is only natural that when we are an expert we want to share our expertise.

And the feeling you get when you share what you know and it helps someone else is incredible. It is the best.

It is the opposite when you share your very best advice and the recipient of your gift doesn’t receive it.  When an employee asks for help and then doesn’t listen.  Or when a client hires you for your expertise and then doesn’t do what you recommend, or doesn’t see the obvious value in buying your product or service.

That is the worst.

It doesn’t make any sense does it?  Why would people seek out your help and then not use it?  Why can’t they see that what you are giving them will solve the pain they just described to you, or help them avoid a lot of unnecessary future pain, or cost? It makes you want to throw up your hands and say “Forget it, I can’t help you!”

Before you give up on that employee, prospect, client, (or even your own child), let’s think about the reasons they may not listen.  Understanding may give us some insight and lead to ways to improve our influence.

Six Reasons Your Advice May Be Falling on Deaf Ears

Here are some reasons why your employee, client, friend or child might not take your well-worn, experienced advice:

  1. They don’t understand it.  Just because it makes total sense to you it may be over their head and they don’t really know what you are saying.  They may be embarrassed to say they don’t get it or they may not even realize it.  They think they are on the same page and have every notion to listen to you yet when they go to take action on the advice, they realize they don’t really get it.
  2. They are afraid.  Since you are the expert you see the situation they may be in from many different vantage points.  When you give your perfectly aimed plans you have already considered all of the contingencies, the different outcomes, and have calculated the options down to the lowest risk and highest reward.  They don’t have this gift and they are concerned it may not work and the repercussions are unknown to them.  What they don’t know is scarier than what they do know.  Maybe the status quo isn’t so bad.
  3. They don’t trust you.  Sometimes when a counseling client comes in for the first time their situation is so obvious that I could stop them after the first 15 minutes with exactly what they need to do in easy-to-follow steps.  If I did that, it would be the last 15 minutes I ever spent with someone.  No one can trust you in that short of a time.  First, you have to have trust for someone to feel comfortable relying on your advice.
  4. There’s an obstacle you don’t know about. Maybe they see the value in your product, but they know they won’t be able to describe it as persuasively as you to their boss, or they’ve already spent their budget for the year, or they have a friend they’d rather hire.
  5. They aren’t capable.  In some cases, the person that you are trying to help doesn’t have the competency to execute the needed plans for their situation.  They may not have the soft skills to handle conflict well.  Or creating a budget is easy for you but they don’t know where to start.  It just isn’t as easy for them as you are making it out to be.
  6. They are too overwhelmed.  There is so much going on in their world that they can’t seem to stop and fit in your guidance.  Take me for instance.  I want to grow my online presence and all of the experts say you need to be online and present consistently.  But I get weeks where I have so many clients in my office and work I need to catch up on that I disappear for days or weeks at a time.  I know I need to be consistent, but sometimes I prioritize other activities ahead of being online.

And yes, believe it or not, sometimes they just don’t agree with you.

Regardless of their reason, if your goal is to truly help, then getting frustrated will not achieve it.

Four Ways to Get Past Resistance and Have an Impact

1.  Seek First To Understand

I mention 5 potential reasons above that someone may be resistant to your advice and help.  Understanding which reason applies in your relationships will really help you to work through what is creating the hesitance with the person you are trying to help.

As a financial person, I had many times in my corporate days that I needed to advise non financial managers regarding new initiatives, budgets, and performance.  Financial analyst was my first job and I was young.  It took me awhile to realize that non-financial managers don’t know the lingo, much less understand financial terms.  This wasn’t all that surprising, but I was surprised to discover that even seasoned managers were hesitant to ask questions or to communicate their lack of understanding.  Instead, they just ignored me.

I thought I was being ignored because I was too young, not because I was too technical.

Once I did understand I was able to be much more effective in helping and working with these managers.

2.  Build Trust

A big part of creating openness in a relationship is trust.  Think of yourself.  You are much more willing to be open and vulnerable, which is usually the case when you need or are seeking advice, if you know that, no matter what, the person dispensing the advice is for you.  When we know that you are on our team and you want to see us achieve our goals or resolve our problems, we are more open to you.  Trust requires patience, encouragement, honesty, and positive personal regard. You can probably even think of times that a prospect chose an inferior vendor or product – simply because they knew and trusted the other vendor more than you.

3.  Ask More Questions

Believe it or not, resistant people are not always aware that they are being resistant.  I wrote about that here.  Once you better understand the resistance and you have built a trusting relationship, the best method to create a break-through is to gently address the problem.  Help the person see where they may be stuck and how together you can move forward. Ask questions to uncover the real obstacle to the sale and see if it is even something you or they have any control over or not.

4.  Offer to Help

One of the best ways to move forward is by offering to help.  As I mentioned, as coaches and counselors we come across this problem pretty often.  We believe that offering to stay with our clients through execution of plans is a point of difference for Crossroads.  Many coaches and consultants offer advice, recommendations and reports and then leave.  The execution is up to the client.  If they are resistant, oh well, Mr. Consultant has already been paid.

We really want our clients to achieve their goals.  So when we can, we stay with our clients all the way through execution.  This may require working through a layer or two of resistance, but in the end their is a much higher chance that goals are achieved.

Resistance Is Pretty Normal

If you are directing, guiding, or advising an employee, client or family member, don’t be surprised if you encounter a little resistance.  It is pretty normal.

When that happens, something else you can do is to go to Jesus for advice, and pray for that patience and understanding.  I do this alot!

I imagine though, there are just as many times that Jesus provides me with the direction I need, and guess what, I sometimes resist too!

This week, why not pick just one of the five tips above and see if you can boost your influence with a client, employee, or even family member.

Have a great story about knocking your head against a proverbial wall and not being heard? Or, maybe you have a story about overcoming someone’s resistance? Tell us all about it in the comments below.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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