Learn how to identify and deal with resistance in a difficult conversation. In this video, Marlene Chism provides you with a model to help you pinpoint the exact nature of the resistance you may encounter.
- Difficult conversations come in all shapes and sizes, but guess what every single difficult conversation has in common? Resistance. Resistance means the conversation is either not happening or it's not going in the direction you want. There are different forms of resistance and we need to identify them. I like to use the acronym SAND because when you're stuck in a state of resistance, you're basically stuck in the sand. SAND stands for stuck, attached, negative, and distracted.
Let's start with stuck. This is the indecision and avoidance that happens when you need to talk about something but you aren't sure how, so you procrastinate, or you avoid it entirely because you're afraid of the other person's response. To overcome being stuck, pick your battles. Ask yourself, what's the purpose of the conversation I need to have? Your reason why should benefit the other person as well as you. For example, the conversation you need to have will prevent a future problem.
Picture the outcome you want then pick a date to initiate the conversation. Next is attachment, and attachment is the trap. When you become overly attached to how the other person is going to respond, you set yourself up for that tug of war. So let go of your desire to control the other person. They may reject your idea. They may cry. They may get angry. Be willing for any of these things to happen. Now identify your choices should any of these things happen.
You may have to set a boundary or you may actually have to let them go. The point is, you can't control someone else but you can control you. After attachment, is negativity. Complaining is a form of negativity that indicates resistance. In your conversations, you're going to experience feelings of negativity or even hear complaints from the other person, what should you do? If the other person goes negative, take a breath and then acknowledge their reality.
Say something like, I hear you. I know you're frustrated. And then, redirect by asking, what choices do you have? Use the same tip for yourself. If you find yourself going negative and complaining, realize you're in a state of resistance, then ask yourself, what choices do I have? When you find your choice, you find your power. Finally D stands for distraction. Distraction is a lot like avoidance, but I make the distinction that avoidance happens before the conversation, and distraction happens within the conversation.
Distraction occurs when the other person feels resistance and then starts to blame you, or gets angry, or any number of things to change the focus and direction of the conversation. Here's what to do once you realize your distracted. Take a breath and say, let's refocus on the issue at hand. Okay, now here's your action items. First, look at the SAND acronym and describe times and situations where you have been stuck, attached, negative, or distracted.
Doing this exercise will prepare you to overcome resistance and have a productive conversation.
- Understand why conversations go badly
- Define the influence of power structures and patterns in a difficult conversation
- Identify observable behaviors and use them to focus on facts and on how behaviors affect the business
- Control the direction of a conversation
- Build a blueprint from which to structure a conversation
- Identify and prepare for resistance during a difficult conversation
- Identify the conversational choices available to you when others resist your efforts