I want to cover all things �resistance� in this blog, so I my attention was grabbed by an article in one of my favourite blogs: Seth Godin�s Blog.

For anyone not familiar, Seth is a thinker and a provocateur, whose principal outlet is in the discipline of marketing.� But he doesn�t limit himself to this single topic.� His blogs are extremely thought provoking and I don�t always agree with what he says � which is good.

Seth�s 10 February blog was a great example

Titled �When I want your opinion, I’ll ask for it�, he argues that too many people respond to a request for an opinion with an evasive answer, disguised as a reasonable chance to consider more carefully.� These are the examples he gives:

– What do you think?
– Did you do any research?
– Can we do a focus group?
– What did Will say?
– There’s a typo on page three
– How long do we have to study this?
– Can we form a committee?

He describes these responses as resistance.� That got me interested.

It is the job of an expert, Seth argues, to give an opinion: I agree

So what if they don�t?� Is that resistance?� After all, is it not also the job of an expert to take a considered view, to apply a process, to make sure they get it right?� Seth�s answer:

�When I ask you for your opinion I’m not asking you for the right answer. I’m asking you for your opinion.�

So now we are giving the expert an opt out � permission to be wrong, or at least provisional.

I think this response is about fear

In Malcolm Gladwell�s book �Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking�, he argues that deep expertise confers on us the ability to cut through the mass of superficial data and see through to the small amount of information that really matters.� Experts can make a quick assessment and will usually get it right.

So if your expert won�t give an opinion, then how confident are they of their expertise?� I suspect that anyone with genuine expertise will hardly be able to suppress their desire to give an opinion.

How to handle this resistance

Step 1:
Give them permission to make a provisional assessment and don�t require them to be able to justify it.� Real experts sometimes cannot do the justification without a lot more information � they just �know� what they know about the situation.

Step 2: If they still push back and demur: go find another expert!

The Key Points

  • Read Seth’s Blog
  • Follow Seth on Twitter @ThisIsSethsBlog
  • Read posts on Shift Happens! about Seth Godin
    At time of writing, there are two posts here.� I plan at least one more.
    Shift Happens! is my blog about change, projects and risk.

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