On dealing with resistance – The consulting way

Rob had a tough situation at hand as he was facing intense resistance from Brad as he offered a few tips for Brad to improve his productivity at work. The annoying part here was that it was Brad who had asked for his point of view, and now that he was giving it to him, he was feeling a strong push back.

It was then that he recalled an exercise his boss in his consulting firm had taught him.

‘Put your palms together in front of your chest. Let your right arm be the client’s resistance and your left arm be your response to the resistance.

Then, move your right arm towards the left, and your left arm to the right at the same time. If you hold this position, both hands are stuck in the middle. That is what will happen if you counter resistance – tension goes up, energy gets drained and you get stuck.

Now, let your left arm give in to the right arm’s push. At some point, your right arm will stop as it will have pushed as far as it can go. If you hold this position, you will notice that the right hand, the resistance, gets tired and drops of its own weight to the centre. Now, contacted but unopposing, the left hand can maintain its own position with no tension and little loss of energy. Rest assured, this will always work…

pushing cannot last forever, after all

Smiling at the memory, Rob listened till Brad got tired of defending himself and eventually requested Rob to help him. And, help him he did..

As we are constantly involved in the act of giving advice (sometimes solicited, other times not), we’re all consultants and always have clients of varying kinds. I hope this little exercise is helpful in making your next consulting gig more positive and easier.

Source: ‘Flawless Consulting’ by Peter Block