Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio December
BY Rick Maurer
THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
How to handle stonewalling naysayers and get them to hear your
Have you ever tried to plan an event, and no
one wanted what you wanted? It all seemed so clear, if only your
colleagues and bosses would have listened.
The brick wall of resistance can kill compromise, no matter if
you are trying to get the hotel staff to go along with a sudden
change or to get your client to agree to a theme. By understanding
how resistance gets in the way of your ideas, you can work to turn
opposition into support.
I DON’T GET IT
When you see a person’s eyes glaze over, eyebrows furrow or head
tip slightly to one side, those signs signify “I don’t understand.”
That’s your cue to slow down and back up a little before all is
lost. After all, if someone doesn’t get your idea, there’s no
chance he will support it.
This is level-one resistance, which involves poor communication.
Problems can arise, for instance, when planners use jargon to
explain things to someone who is not a planner. Jargon works well
in the office, but not so well in other realms.
Consider your audience. How can you pitch the idea in their
language? Will pictures or an on-site walk-through help? Clear,
two-way communication is the key.
I DON’T LIKE IT
Sometimes an idea triggers a fearful response, causing the listener
to hem and haw about your idea or to actively oppose it.
This level-two resistance might be based on a colleague’s or
superior’s fear that your terrific idea will make you look so good,
her creative skills will pale by comparison. Or, if the concept is
logistically tricky or requires bending the rules, she might worry
something will go wrong and reflect badly on her.
The emotions behind level-two responses get in the way of
productive communication. If they’re never aired, these fears
fester until what was once a tiny bump is now an enormous boulder
blocking the way. Try to recognize and swiftly address these
concerns in order to push your idea forward.
I DON’T LIKE YOU
Level-three resistance is not about your ideas it’s about you. Your
history with others, as well as their biases, prejudices or
mistrust, influence how they receive your idea.
Level-three resistance is the toughest to overcome because it’s
hard to believe people simply don’t like you or something you stand
for. However, if you ignore it, your ideas will go nowhere.
Step back and consider what others see when they look at you and
what they hear when they listen to you. Think about your
experiences with these people. Have prior dealings been pleasant or
contentious? What is their past history with planners?
AROUND THE BLOCK
Once you’ve made an effort to see yourself and your idea through
another’s eyes, try these techniques for working through and moving
beyond all three levels of resistance.
Pay attention. Watch how others respond to your
idea both verbally and through their body language.
Converse, don’t present. Ask questions to find
out why someone opposes your idea.
Avoid knee-jerk reactions. Don’t be defensive
or sarcastic, and don’t end the conversation in frustration.
Find ways to connect. Paraphrase others’
concerns to show you’re listening; embrace suggestions that
piggyback on your idea; and invite others to join in the
development and implementation of the idea.
Resistance actually is good: It demonstrates
that others are intrigued enough about your ideas to oppose them.
That might be cold comfort, but if you figure out what’s behind the
resistance, you’ll be on your way to turning opposition into
Maurer is an Arlington, Va.-based speaker and author
of Why Don’t You Want What I Want? How to Win Support for Your
Ideas Without Hard Sell, Manipulation, or Power Plays (Bard Press;
Back to Current Issue indexM&C
| Events Calendar
| Incentive News
| Meetings Market
| CVB Links
| Reader Survey
| Hot Dates
| Contact M&C