Resistance is normal: resistance to what is being taught or how it is being taught. What we want to do is minimize it so that it does not negatively interfere with learning. Here are 10 ways to do this:
- Early agenda. Tell learners in advance what they will be learning or meeting about. Getting rid of the element of surprise will minimize resistance.
- Choice. Offering learners choices on how to learn or how to do something, can minimize resistance. They will appreciate the feeling of having input in their learning.
- Transparency. Explain to learners why you are doing something if it is different from what they are used to. Once they understand there is a reason, they will resist less.
- Relevance. When learners do not understand how something is important in their life they will resist the learning experience. Help learners know why this content is important for their lives or work, and why it matters. Relevance is key for adult learners.
- Check in. You can check in with learners privately during a break or with the entire group at the end of a session. If you invite them to honestly tell you how a session is going and they see you respond to what they share, resistance will be reduced.
- Stick to the program. Don’t change the learning agenda unless you have a good reason and explain it to the group. Flexibility is important. However, unless the change will benefit the learners and their learning, you should stick to the plan.
- Show respect. Showing respect to all learners can minimize resistance. People will react negatively to feeling left out or undervalued, and when seeing others experience this.
- Affirmation. Everyone likes to be appreciated and affirmed. The more you do this, the less resistance you will have from your learners.
- Safety. Learners need to feel emotionally, physically and psychologically safe enough to authentically engage with new content and with each other. If they don’t, they may start to resist the process or not fully engage. Learning new content takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable—learners need to feel safe for this to be possible.
- Welcome it! Minimizing resistance is helpful. However, never avoid it when it shows up because it will most likely build and come back stronger. Sometimes the best learning happens from tough debate, uncomfortable challenge and surprising questions.
Why do most people fear resistance?
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Jeanette Romkema (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Global Learning Partners (GLP) co-owner and Managing Partner of Communications and Marketing, as well a Senior Consultant and Trainer with GLP. She loves talking about the topic of resistance, so don’t hesitate to email her with your questions or thoughts.