“I’m Right, You’re Wrong”: Why We’re Resistant To Others’ Ideas, Part 2

“It doesn’t hurt to consider all ideas, even when they’re not your own.” This sentiment may seem tongue-in-cheek, but there’s an important reality behind it that can mean the difference between career stagnation and true accomplishment. In my previous article— the companion to this one, I explored with you how being willing and able to carve out space for others’ ideas is not only a healthy way to release your toxic resistance, but that widening the idea pool in this manner leads to better-informed business solutions: the classic win/win situation.

Let’s pick up where I left off in that article by putting the psychology and the language of resistance under the microscope. The goal here is to reframe these features of resistance and get you more comfortable with shutting down the ego when it impedes your openness to an idea collective.

Getting Trust Realigned With Security

I had previously mentioned that I (and I’m not alone in this) often find myself resistant to the people whom I don’t like or respect. I admit that I’m not trusting of their agenda and what I conclude is their ulterior motive, which translates to, “Their ideas and contributions are out of the question”. Another trust aspect of resistance is when I’m blindsided by my own certainty. I’ve experienced being so sure of myself and my own answer that on sharing it with someone, I was in disbelief that they felt they could improve on it. I was “just letting them know something” so we could stay on the same page, and they dared to make a suggestion that I wasn’t open to hearing about.

When these tendencies arise in me, it now becomes my mission to reframe the situation with my biases removed. A little zoom-out gives me a sense of the other person’s orientation to the matter at hand, which usually reveals some practical and innovative ideas on their part, and an abundance of insecurity on mine. From this pivot point, they and I can move forward together and achieve real progress.

Employing A Growth Mindset

Resistance arises, in part, from the discomforts of being dependent and asking for help. The reframing for this is the Growth Mindset. Ask yourself, “What can I learn? How can I do things better?” Then tell yourself, “Another’s guidance will result in a superior final outcome.”

For instance, in addition to serving clients, I’m also a client to others. In this position, I apologize and help others understand that my resistance is due to the vulnerability of my position. Hearing and accepting their expert advice can unfortunately translate to “I’m inferior” or “I’m broken”. Real change requires acquiescing and agreeing that I’m less than perfect, not to mention the work it all entails (effort on top of time commitment can be intimidating!). In this case, I reframe by acknowledging that “Defenses and resistance are a sign that I have touched on something important and valuable.”

On Further Investigation

As Deborah Naish so eloquently detailed during DRIVEN’s May OfficeHours, when there is resistance due to a “No”, look beneath the “No”. This one word can offer many clues into your resistance of others. Deborah let us in on some of the reasons we tend to say “No”, like when….

  • We’re outside our comfort zones
  • We don’t immediately see how we can gather resources for another’s idea
  • We don’t have enough time to execute, or at least it feels that way
  • We’re overwhelmed
  • We’ve been in a stressed state and are closed to exploring possibilities

You can also detect your resistance to others’ ideas when you find yourself judging. Judgment is a sign of not listening to their idea to absorb, but instead jumping right to your rejection. Additionally, consider leaning into resistance. You’ll learn a lot about yourself (and others) when you begin to recognize, allow and investigate.

Your Secret to Unlocking Resistance

To come up with better solutions, a great first step is to actively get curious. This attitude allows the prefrontal cortex to engage so you can speak with the benefit of reason on your side. By asking questions for which you have no answer, you can hear more fully what the other person’s thought process looks like. A comforting qualifier here is that listening to others doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. You’re just seeking to understand them. Some questions to ask for truly understanding others include, “Can you share your thinking behind this idea?” and “What is the problem this idea addresses?” and “What led you to this idea”?

Always remember that what we resist persists. Once you recognize your resistance, if you take a breath and allow yourself to investigate, you can fully navigate through the emotions of resistance. And once you’re aware of those emotions, you can zoom out, reframe and choose with thoughtfulness rather than the temptation to react.

Check back in a week for an article overflowing with Resistance Resources!

If you enjoy what you’re reading and are considering living life more fully, schedule a complimentary consultative session with DRIVEN HERE.