Merge's Blog

When you’re faced with resistance, ask questions

If you’ve ever had to pitch an idea or persuade others of your point of view, then you know all about the natural reaction that bubbles up from within when you hear the word “no”, or when others begin to question or criticize your perspective.  Instinctively, we tend to get defensive, and we try to immediately fight back and defend our position or project.  But in my experience, it’s actually far more effective to take a completely different approach – to ask questions.

The next time you face opposition or resistance, hold yourself back from verbalizing all the reasons why you are right or why your project should get the go-ahead.  Instead, ask a few well-chosen questions.  “Why do you think that?” or “What led you to that conclusion?” will force others to articulate their assumptions, and will not only give you a useful insight into where they are coming from, but may also cause them to re-evaluate their position.  I have found that asking questions  not only helps me keep my defensiveness in check, but perhaps more importantly, takes my conversations to a deeper level.  It allows you to get beyond the immediate disagreement and find out more about what the motivations are on all sides.

So have you found this to be true as well?  Please … share your experiences, positive or negative.


  • I want to thank you for your clips you have been sending me. Once reading them the picture is so clear. Some are so close to my reality that I have to chuckle. I enjoy them very much.

    Anna Rees
    Food Service Supervisor.

  • Thanks for your kind words Anna. I am glad that I am a small part of your journey as an exceptional leader and communicator.

  • I find this method very effective for both keeping my defenses in check and for taking the conversations to a deeper level. However, it has backfired on me lately as it was not taken as a productive means in these respects at all but as a sign that I perhaps am lacking in knowledge or skills. The teammates I currently work with are highly competitive and it is all about who can out best the other. For me who thinks teamwork is more important than individual gains I look for ways to maintain the relationship by combating resistance to my ideas in the way you describe. Too bad it didn’t filter up to management that way. I lost a chance at a promotion over it.

  • Wow Corinne, thanks for sharing! I must admit that it never occurred to me that this strategy could be counter-productive. In hindsight (which is always 20-20), could you have done something differently, adapted your approach somewhat, to avoid this from happening? I know that you obviously lost a promotion over it and that’s got to be tough, but if you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently? Please share, as I think that we could all learn from your adversity.


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