Understanding Resistance during Discovery and Dialogue

Last night’s class involved a consulting simulation. My group members and I were part of the consulting firm sent in to help a watchmaking company resolve manufacturing concerns and customer service complaints.  After hearing Sam and Allison’s presentation on Discovery and Dialogue and presenting last week on resistance techniques, I carelessly thought  I’ve got all the knowledge necessary to ask the right questions and develop a rapport with a potential client. All you have to do is read the Block book, pick out the questions, follow the techniques, and ask those questions to your client. Wow, was I wrong.

I think the Block book makes it seem so easy – like following a recipe; however, when you’re in the moment and you are getting extreme resistance, it’s hard to remember the steps. It’s hard to keep that mentality that you want to help this person. I kept thinking how do you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped or doesn’t view themselves as part of the problem? I don’t think you can. In fact, I think you have to use that resistance as constructive data and put it in your recommendations and results. Block says you can support and confront during a discovery meeting. A consultant should pick up on one word answers, controlling behavior, or portraying negative attitudes. His recommendation is to pick up on the cues, name it in the meeting, and wait for the client to respond. In the simulation, however, the client didn’t respond to idea of being resistant. It almost felt like the Block technique didn’t work. Or, maybe it’s my own personal bias toward not liking to deal with resistant people? I have to say I left class wondering a little bit about what biases I bring to the table as a consultant.

After last night’s class, I’m not sure what to expect in my own consulting project in regards to discovering how the operation currently functions in the School of Business’ Office of Student and Alumni Engagement. Since I work so closely and am personal friends with those colleagues, I don’t want it to bias me toward seeing some of serious implications of the problem. Now that I’m more aware of it, I can better manage it. The awareness is definitely a result of this class.

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2 thoughts on “Understanding Resistance during Discovery and Dialogue

  1. MARY-RUTH,
    THE FIRST STEP IN ANY PROCESS IS TO IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL ISSUE… PERSONAL BIAS COULD BE A ONE POTENTIAL ISSUE. THE NEXT STEP IS TO SIMPLY BE AWARE, AND “SELF-CHECK” YOURSELF WHEN NEEDED. YOU DO THIS EVERY DAY WITH THE VCU STUDENT YOU GUIDE. YOU ARE A NATURE “HELPER”, SO YOU LIKE WHEN THINGS GO AS PLANNED. FROM OBSERVING YOU “WORKING THE ROOM” WITH THE STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS AND VCU BUSINESS STAFF, YOU CLEAR HAVE WHAT IT TAKES. THERE IS ALREADY A LEVEL OF TRUST AND RESPECT (FOR YOU), THAT WILL AID IN THE CONSULTING PROCESS. FRET NOT, YOU ARE POISED FOR GREATNESS! SB

  2. Mary Ruth, yes, Block does make it all seem so easy and that, to me, can actually have the effect of making it overwhelming. I say this because if one sets off one their own to be an external consultant I doubt there is a real opportunity to truly learn on the job without making a multitude mistakes or omissions during the process, and those mistakes may be detrimental to one getting the endorsements needed to get more consulting work. But, mistakes are obviously part of the learning process, so this could be your classic Catch-22. Obviously, it’s imperative to have someone to mentor you through the process.

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