Everyone should have opposition. It is natural and to be encouraged. If you don’t have opposition, you are not trying hard enough, or you are deluded. Developing appropriate tenacity and displaying the right level of resolve may not win the day, but it should earn the respect of those you are attempting to influence.
The definition of tenacity, which seems most appropriate when it comes to influence in the workplace, is “persistence of purpose”. Tenacity is the ability to display commitment to what you believe in. You keep picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and quickly get going again having learned a little more.
At its best, tenacity allows you to remain open to new ideas because you want to keep learning. Rather than outright rejections of anything to the contrary, if you have tenacity, you will seek opportunities to bring people towards your purpose, even if that means modifying your route or some of the detail along the way. You hold true to your purpose.
Tenacious is not to be confused with bloody-minded, stubborn or pig-headed — none of these will help your relationships at work. Another word which helps to explain what you need to avoid is intransigence — unwilling or refusing to change one’s views or to agree about something.
These attitudes create discord within a team. In effect, they scream, “I’m right, you’re wrong, and to hell with what you think”. Not sure about you, but I don’t particularly welcome working with people like that.
So, in order to develop the constructive tenacity to succeed…
- Be crystal clear about your purpose.
- Remain flexible about the route.
- Listen, learn and then reaffirm your purpose.
- Intelligently connect contrary views to your purpose.
- Build an emotional support network.
- Remind yourself frequently of the benefits (to yourself and others).
- Seek to negotiate, persuade AND inspire people to your cause.
The role of opposition is to help you shine. It exists to stretch and to test your resolve to succeed. Learn and adapt in the face of opposition, and don’t give up before it has had a chance to do its duty.
With simple frameworks and processes, this is about taking a careful approach to your work as an influencer, and making sure you achieve economy of effort and create maximum movement towards your goals. Once you know what your strategy needs to be, the actions become straightforward and easier to execute.
Guilty of Annoying Your Stakeholders?
You are busy, and so are your stakeholders.
Getting them on board with your ideas, liaising with them to resolve issues, all takes time. It also helps a great deal if you get on well with them. Effective working relationships smooth over the inevitable problems and challenges that need to be dealt with.
Trouble is, it is far too easy to irritate them.
You are in a hurry and time is of the essence. But, as you push things forward, try to make sure and avoid these common irritants…
Turning an Adversary into a Raving Fan
Nita (a coaching client) had just finished an adversarial meeting with an important stakeholder (let’s call her Sonja). It had not gone well, and Nita was angry and frustrated by the objections Sonja was throwing at her.
After letting the feelings flow for a few minutes while the story was tumbling out, I interrupted Nita by saying that I thought she was wrong. “From what you are saying, it seems to me that Sonja is just trying her hardest to do a good job and achieve her objectives, and you are simply frustrating her efforts.”
That was all I said, and we moved on to other topics.
Two months later, without…
Learning to Appreciate and Value Battle-Hardened Stakeholders
Sometimes, from the very beginning of a workshop, it is evident that the delegates have a common problem with a big powerful stakeholder. As we start to delve into their influencing objectives, “his” name keeps being mentioned. Round the table with the power cards ― there he is again. Who is this guy to be such a problem for everyone around the table? Why is he being so difficult and making everyone’s life a misery?
On a recent occasion when this happened, one thing I noticed was that his name was being used as a code for “don’t even try to influence”. It was also apparent that there was a great deal of bad feeling in the room towards this character ― even the mere mention of his name. Well actually, for a long time, they…