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 that 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 rejection 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 being 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.
In reality, when you are tenacious you need to take care not to persist in the wrong course of action or towards the wrong goal. Before you go too far, make sure that you:
- Make sure that what you are shooting for is context sensitive. No idea works in isolation. So, take a look at what is going on around you. You don’t have to fit, you can rebel, but you need to do this with full awareness of what you are up against.
- Check in with the political trade winds in your arena. Your idea may be spot on, just what the organisation needs, but if the powers that be are going to be damaged, you will be setting yourself up against strong oppostion.
- Manage your messaging carefully. Some of the boldest visions need to be kept quiet until you’ve got everyone to first or second base. Revealing the ultimate destination may incite unhelpful and unwarranted opposition. Preparing the ground by stages may be appropriate.
Once you have made a firm decision on your direction, you can begin to fire up your tenacity by doing these seven ideas:
- 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.
Colin Gautrey is an author, coach, and trainer who specialises in the practical use of power and influence in large organisations. He has 25 years’ experience helping middle/senior professionals to survive, thrive and enjoy their work.
If you are ready to develop your influencing capability, become a member of Breakthrough Influence. If you are serious about becoming highly influential, fast, engage with Colin and he will help you get there in the most effective way possible.
Other articles by Colin:
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