I want to cover all things ï¿½resistanceï¿½ in this blog, so I my attention was grabbed by an article in one of my favourite blogs: Seth Godinï¿½s Blog.
For anyone not familiar, Seth is a thinker and a provocateur, whose principal outlet is in the discipline of marketing.ï¿½ But he doesnï¿½t limit himself to this single topic.ï¿½ His blogs are extremely thought provoking and I donï¿½t always agree with what he says ï¿½ which is good.
Sethï¿½s 10 February blog was a great example
Titled ï¿½When I want your opinion, I’ll ask for itï¿½, 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.ï¿½ 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.ï¿½ That got me interested.
It is the job of an expert, Seth argues, to give an opinion: I agree
So what if they donï¿½t?ï¿½ Is that resistance?ï¿½ 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?ï¿½ Sethï¿½s answer:
ï¿½When I ask you for your opinion I’m not asking you for the right answer. I’m asking you for your opinion.ï¿½
So now we are giving the expert an opt out ï¿½ permission to be wrong, or at least provisional.
I think this response is about fear
In Malcolm Gladwellï¿½s book ï¿½Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinkingï¿½, 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.ï¿½ Experts can make a quick assessment and will usually get it right.
So if your expert wonï¿½t give an opinion, then how confident are they of their expertise?ï¿½ 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 donï¿½t require them to be able to justify it.ï¿½ Real experts sometimes cannot do the justification without a lot more information ï¿½ they just ï¿½knowï¿½ 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.ï¿½ I plan at least one more.
Shift Happens! is my blog about change, projects and risk.