You Win on the Strength of Your Relationship

You don’t win on the strength of your argument. You win on the strength of your relationship.

You never win on the strength of your argument — or your negatively perceived directive if you are the one holding power in the relationship. Even if your subordinate does what you wanted, the initial resistance will fester and spread as they implement the details. If it was pushed down their throats, instead of something they felt some ownership of, they will resist…[and] it will come back to bite you later. Stop trying to convince the other part and instead focused on listening to his point of view and respecting it… and the resistance just will disappear.

So many people especially managers and leaders approach resistance in such an ineffective manner because its natural to punch back. It’s a lifelong habit most people have. We repeat ourselves, often more loudly and over and over again, when someone hasn’t heard or doesn’t agree. When we get resistance, it feels like we’ve been pushed back or hit. And so the reflex is to push or hit back — to counter punch in an effort to show the other side why they were wrong.

This type of interaction looks just like a boxing match. But here’s the first and most important tool: When you get resistance, [say to yourself], “Shut up, listen and win!”

“Shut up” may sound rude and counter productive, but it’s a splash of cold water. It gets your attention so you can stop dismantling and start using your authority to build stronger relationships. That’s the prize, a strong relationship. Strong relationships are the key to meaningful and effective partners and work relationships. Nothing else comes close to being as important. No productive business can exist without strong relationships. And yet, too often, we ignore the “state of the union” while resistance, defensiveness and even tempers are on the rise.

Now that you’ve stopped talking, to show you listened, repeat back what you’ve heard “So you don’t think this will work and it’s a bad idea because…. Did I get that right?” Just listen and make sure you’ve heard it the way the other person meant it.

Then explore just a little bit more. Go for the emotion behind the push back. Empathize. [Say something like,] “Now that I understand your position, I can see why you would be uneasy buying in.” Take the resistance that is negative energy and use it, by absorbing it, so the person feels respected and safe, lowers their defenses, and as a result opens up to you.

In this exchange, instead of boxing, the verbal interaction looks more like Jujitsu. You meet the resistance, not with a push or punch but instead with open hands. As the person comes at you with their resistance, with open hands you step aside and embrace the negative movement, use its energy, to move the person where you want them.

Summing-up: If you are getting push-back, shut up, listen and win. And remember when you are faced with resistance you never win on the strength of your argument, you win on the strength of your relationship.

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