In order to persuade somebody, you need to overcome “resistance”. That’s part of the persuasion game.
Remember that without resistance, there would be no need for persuasion.
And that’s also why there is a whole objection-handling category on this website.
Before even answering the objection, you should understand what type of motivation is behind the objection.
How many types of resistance are there?
- Reactance. Knee-jerk reaction to a persuasion attempt perceived as a threat to freedom of choice.
- Skepticism. Proposal-based objection.
- Inertia. Unwillingness to change.
This type of resistance happens when people feel you are threatening their freedom of choice. If people think you are manipulating them in order to get what you want instead of what they need, then prepare to meet some serious reactance. One of the techniques you can use is the “But, you’re free” technique.
Let the other person know that they are in control of their choices, and that you have their best interests in mind… then you should stay clear of reactance.
When people evaluate your proposal, they will use their own evaluation model. They will use their own experience and understanding of the world. If you are working on the wrong assumptions, then you will meet failure. Make sure you understand what the evaluation model is. This involves a lot of dialogue.
Once you understand what the reasoning behind the skepticism, then you can write them down and cross them off.
Last but not least, inertia is the third type of resistance you can meet.
The mind is lazy. It’s easier to stick with what you have than evaluating something new.
Here are some common sentences you might hear.
Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t
Don’t ever put a fence down before you know why it was put up - Robert Frost
If it’s not broken, don’t fix it
Inertia is absolutely normal, because any change to the status quo requires energy. And we need all the energy we can to get through the day.
Amongst many other things you can do, you can ask the other person to take a long-term vision.
How do you see your company in 5 years?
What will you do when your competitors come up with a new product in the next business cycle?
If the other person accepts thinking about the future, then the status quo will no longer be an issue.
We’ve covered the 3 types of resistance you meet when you are persuading.
Let’s have a recap:
- Reactance – Resistance towards the persuader
- Skepticism – Resistance towards the proposal
- Inertia – Resistance towards change
I will cover the different ways to handle those resistances in a series of blog posts.
In the meantime, make sure you identify what type of resistance you are facing.