So, your client is resisting …

I don't hear you! 5-6 years old boy isolated on white

First of all your client is not a child; he or she has good reasons to be resistant.  You as his or her consultant need to find out why.  The graphic above typifies what it can feel like when your client is resisting your proposals.

Appart from sticking his or her fingers in his or her ears and looking surly (any parents, uncles or aunties out there will have seen this really honest communication), what is your client doing (as an adult).

Well he or she is likely to be:

  • Sitting there in silence
  • Attacking you overtly
  • Talking incessantly
  • Demanding the impossible
  • Talking in generalities
  • Just not listening
  • Failing to deliver on what he or she said he or she would do
  • Blocking access to key people you need to talk to
  • If you are part of a team of consultants, going to everyone with the same question
  • Always knowing best
  • Wasting time
  • Making excuses for time to meet you
  • Being too compliant
  • Failing to commit to specific dates
  • Delaying action repeatedly

So, as a professional adviser, what are your options?

Ignore the behaviour? Sadly, it will not go away and your efforts to influence your client will ultimately fail – bad news for your client and for you.

Ignore the first three instances of the “bad” behaviour?  Probably, because one swallow doesn’t make a summer and there may be genuine extenuating circumstances.

“But, he or she is doing it all the time” I hear you cry – its time for confrontation!  But do not take it personally – its not you its him or her.

“I note that we make plans for action and that, on at least three occasions, you have not been able to meet the agreed date, I don’t understand what is going on – can you help?”  Factually accurate and non-confrontational because you are seeking information.  Don’t justify your question with any more talk – sit back and listen.  There may be an outburst – avoid taking it personally.  Ask follow up questions to deepen your understanding.  When the outburst is over, explore ways of resolving the issues and seek permission to move on.

Great consultants know how to handle resistance – add it to you skills and it will make a remarkable difference to the impact you have.

I can deal with specific cases of resistance if you contact me at

As always, I hope this has been of value and that it makes life a little easier.

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