Change is Hard
Change is hard. Personal growth is change. Transformation is change. Achieving goals or strategic outcomes is change. And change even when we want it to happen is often challenging.
As a facilitator, coach, or consultant/freelancer you are often involved in helping people identify the change they want in their situation, their life, or their organization. In most cases, you are there because the person or organization invited you to be part of the process. But similar to how change that we want can be challenging; just because you were invited to be part of the process does not mean the person or people involved will not, at some point, resist your efforts to offer help and support.
The key in these situations is to not take the resistance personally. Resistance is not about you or about your competence as a facilitator or coach. It’s not logical or rational and the person may not even be fully aware that they are responding negatively to your support. Resistance is a predictable emotional reaction to the process of change.
Resistance can take many forms, such as avoidance, deflecting, asking questions, attack, shutting down, etc.. When you encounter resistance, identify what is happening, stop, provide the time and person or situation specific supports needed to help the person emotionally process what they are feeling, and wait until everyone is ready to move forward again.
As a facilitator, coach, or consultant, you are there to support the person or organization. See the resistance as a sign that change is happening. Remember, part of your role is to hold space for whatever is needed to help the person or organization achieve the goal they have asked you to help with. Ultimately, it is not your job to solve or eliminate the resistance. It’s your job to provide the space and tools for the other person to work through this very natural response to change. Sometimes the most effective thing you can do is to name what you are seeing or hearing, and then let silence and the other person do the heavy lifting.