How to reduce client resistance

resistance-300x207First of all, stop pushing; you’ll just increase the resistance and make it worse. You won’t win if you keep pushing. Instead switch to a pull influencing style and start asking why? Your client is perfectly entitled to his or her resistance! There will be a perceived threat and your job is to understand what that threat might be.

You’ll minimise the likelihood of getting resistance from your clients if you:

Ensure that he or she accepts your assessment of the the “real” underlying problem. When I reach this point with clients, I often hear them saying “I thought the problem was X but actually it is more about Y”. This also helps avoid the classic criticism of consultants as people who borrow your watch to tell you what time it is;
Win permission to give advice and build trust with your client by remembering that you are working on her or his territory and that you are a visitor. You do not have permission to do anything until you have won it explicitly;
Jointly determine diagnoses of problems and issues, solutions and implementation methods with your client;
Structure your interventions so that you work through a thorough diagnosis and description of the issues, explore a wide range of options, use objective criteria to select the best solutions and engage all stakeholders in the development of an implementation plan.
Often, when resistance arises it is a sign that an earlier stage in the problem solving process has been skipped or has not be completed fully.

Consultants dislike resistance as a rule but remember if you don’t get any during the process of working with your client it may be a sign that you haven’t challenged him or her enough or, worse, that he or she is just going along with you and may be planning to reject your work at the final stage.

I hope some of this helps you have the impact you want to have on your clients.

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