We hate being told what to do. That’s a fact. And there is a psychological explanation to this, called ‘’reactance’’. Reactance is a negative emotional state that we experience when we feel like we are not in control of our behavior. Whatever we are being told, the first reaction is to find all the reasons to say no. Reactance is not always a bad thing, it can be a great opportunity to develop our critical mind, but in many cases it can also make us blind. This is especially true when you focus on listing all the cons while ignoring the pros. If you want to find cons you’ll find them, but that won’t help you find a better solution either. I truly believe that there is a paradox in our human nature. We don’t like to loose control, but as soon as we really have it, we kind of freak out. That’s why we usually say in French « la critique est aisée, mais l’art est difficile », which means « It’s always easier to criticize than to act ». Detractors never have a better solution to the one they are fiercely fighting against. Their negative reaction give them the illusion of control. But as soon as you ask them to be part of the solution there is no one left (too much responsibilities). Despite the fact that detractors can be loud, change will always be about leadership. This means, persuading people that what you suggest is the best path to take. In his podcast episode, Jason Feifer shares 3 ways to fight reactance depending on the context. The first one is to give people choices or to let them come up with ideas, this one can work really well at work for example. The second one is to highlight the gap between people’s attitudes and their actions, for instance pointing out to a smoker that it doesn’t make sense to discourage someone from smoking when he continues to do so. And the last one, is a more holistic and essential feature: to build trust. It takes time and perseverance but it remains the best persuasive advantage.
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