What to Do About Someone Who’s Resisting You

Is there someone that seems to resist the suggestions or requests you make?

I’ve had people complain about how frustrating it is getting anywhere with someone like that – like beating their head against the wall!

The more you work at “convincing” them the more intensely they seem to resist!


Are you ready to change your approach and get different results?

Close your eyes, and then imagine yourself standing across from someone – anyone you know. Now, they begin to criticize you and tell you what you “should” be doing and that you are doing it wrong.

How do you feel? What is your natural reaction to them as they say these things to you? Can you feel what happens in your body as you listen to them?

Most likely, you felt defensive. Some of you may have seen your body tense up. The more intense their actions against you are, the more intensely you dig in your heels (figuratively speaking) and want to defend yourself against what they’re saying, right? You are resisting what feels like an attack – even if it is only a mild attack.

Now, take the same scenario and imagine that the person is explaining that something is less effective than they hoped. They ask you for ideas about how to do something differently to get a better result. Maybe, they tell you that your opinion and cooperation are important to them. They want your input. How do you respond to that? Chances are good that you see yourself moving in to work with them or talk with them. Usually, there is no sign of defensiveness or resistance to that person.

It is human nature to defend yourself when you feel under “attack”, whether the “attack” is physical or verbal. Defensiveness shows up in different ways in different people depending on their natural tendency. Some people actively defend or resist with words or actions in a way that seems as though they are attacking you. Others may appear to be passive and then wait for an opportunity to get you when you are looking away. Some simply avoid you and the situation by being “too busy” or “having another appointment” or “being sick”.

Stop for a moment and think back to the person who is resisting you. How do you interact with them? Do you go into the conversation “knowing” that they are simply being difficult, or do they have an attitude each time you talk with them about something? Like I mentioned last week, if you go into¬† conversation with an attitude about the other person, they feel it right away! If they feel as though you are criticizing or devaluing them, they probably feel as though it is an attack, and then they choose to defend themselves using their natural defense mechanism.

If you’ve been following my writings for a while, you know that my motto is: “If you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten. If you want something different, do something different.”

I imagine that you want a different result the next time you interact with someone who’s resisting you, right? So, do something different.

Wipe the slate clean of all past interactions with them. It can be effective to visualize yourself actually wiping the slate clean in your mind. Then, approach them as though they are completely new to you. Explain the results you want. Then, ask for their input about how they think it could be accomplished. Ask them what results they think are important. Ask them what benefits can come from getting the results. Ask them what they are willing to do in order to get the results.

Notice how much more effective this approach is. Notice how much easier you get along with them. Notice how their attitude and behavior has changed.

Coach’s Challenge:

Pick one person that you feel resists everything you want them to do. Take out your notebook and pen, and write down how they behave – what is their attitude around you – how does their resistance manifest itself?

Then, do the hard work of honestly looking at how you speak to them. Write down the words you use with them. Write out a description of what you think is wrong with them. Write down the attitude you think they have when you interact with them. Write down the attitude you have when you are around them or need to talk with them.

The more honest you are with yourself (no one else needs to see what you wrote), the more effective this process is.

Next, take a few minutes and visualize how you would like the next interaction with them to be. Be specific about what attitude you want to have, what attitude you want them to have, and what outcome you want. Write down what you came up with.

Right before the next time you meet with them, take a look at what you wrote down. Then wipe the slate clean of previous interactions. Treat them as though they cooperate with you and notice the changes you experience.

Suggested Resources:

This free article by Mary Robinson Reynolds helps to understand how our attitude impacts others and what you can do about it.