5 Challenging Questions for Dealing with Resistance

Summary: In this post, I will share 5 questions that help you better deal with internal and external resistance and decide on your next step. They work for your personal goals if you want to change something or start something new. The questions are:

  • What’s so important to me about the goal?
  • What am I afraid of?
  • What can I learn right now?
  • How do I want to use the energy?
  • What do I want instead?

We all feel resistance! Be it our internal resistance, as well as external in the form of criticism or doubt. Resistance arises when we set goals, want to go new (professional) ways, want to change something, or build something new.
How would it be if instead of giving in to the resistances, we reflected on them and used them to fuel new strength to take the next step? How would it be if we learned to see the resistance as a signpost that helps us to continue in the right direction?

Inspired by Vera Strauch, I like to use these 5 questions that help me reflect, get to the bottom of resistance, and better understand how to take the next step towards my goal.

The 5 Questions for Dealing with Resistance

What’s so important to me about the goal?
Think again about your goal or what you want to do. Why do you want to do that? Why is it so important to you? Knowing the WHY keeps your motivation high.

What am I afraid of?
This very powerful question will push you outside of your comfort zone. Not easy, but often very enlightening.

What can I learn right now?
Does the resistance want you to learn something about yourself, the situation, the person criticizing or doubting, etc.?

How do I want to use the energy?
A lot of energy can float around – especially when feelings like fear, anger, or sadness are involved. Is there a way to use this energy or those feelings constructively?

What do I want instead?
What could be the next step? Do I need to change direction or make adjustments to my goals and suggestions? Or in case someone is doubting your idea: Do you want to be around this person for now? Probably they cannot understand it currently and need more time.

In Action

Example 1 – Dealing with Internal Resistance: Starting a Blog

Starting a blog and writing about my experience as a BA and sharing my learnings was something I wanted to do for a long time. But it took years to actually get started and even now I’m still very good at procrastinating writing posts and creating content. Let’s use the 5 questions to figure out why.

What’s so important to me about the goal?
Life-long learning and sharing knowledge are two of my passions and biggest strengths. Helping other people to grow and follow their goals and dreams makes me just happy.

What am I afraid of?
The first thing that came to my mind is failing in some way, although I’m aware it is a part of starting something new in general. The second thing is time investment: I’m wondering if I can invest enough into this project to make it, in my definition, successful.

What can I learn right now?
I learned about myself that I other people’s opinion is important to me I learned that other people’s opinions are important to me – probably a bit too much. Of course, I want to create something valuable for my readers since you are spending your precious time reading the articles. However, overthinking every idea and every word isn’t helpful at all.
In addition, I learned that as a full-time working mom of a toddler and a newborn I need to specifically schedule a time to work on this project.

How do I want to use the energy?
My motivation keeps me at the moment running and taking one step after the other. In addition, I decided to get coaching to talk about my fears and converting them into pro-active energy.

What do I want instead?
Nothing else, but help to get started, e.g. asking friends to proofread the articles before publishing. At this point, I would like to thank a lot Lina Zubyte from qualitybits!

Example 2 – Dealing with External Resistance: Creating a Community of Practice

On one of my last projects, I worked with a lot of different Product Owners. They had different experience levels and used different practices in their daily work. We met once per week to discuss overarching product topics ranging from smaller decisions about a feature or huge strategic discussions. The only thing missing was a forum to learn from each other, which is why I proposed establishing a community of practice – unfortunately this was met with a lot of criticism and resistance. Yet again these 5 questions helped me handle the situation better:

What’s so important to me about the goal?
I love bringing people together to learn from each other and creating a community of practice is one of my favorite ways to do that. It’s not a low-hanging fruit per se to start one. It takes effort and passion but in contrast to expensive training and workshops you just need to invest time.

What am I afraid of?
At the core, I was afraid of wasting their valuable time. In my mind, I was challenging myself if a community of practice is actually the right approach and if I fully understood the concept. I was afraid of not being able to explain the advantages clearly and understandably enough.

What can I learn right now?
I learned that the people who resisted already had so many meetings in their calendar that they were afraid to put personal learning into working hours and did not want to take their free time for that.

How do I want to use the energy?
I wanted to use this energy to start a conversation about current priorities and other opportunities to learn and grow.

What do I want instead?
Based on the answer to the previous question, we as a group agreed on hosting a 1-day workshop in which we gathered the status quo of each other’s knowledge and interests in learning.

In the end, the group decided against a regular meeting to start a community of practice. They noticed in the 1-day workshop that their personal goals and passions are too far apart to make a community of practice successful.

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Nadine Oldorf
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