A lot of R words with a particular significance on this blog. In a reaction on last week’s post I was requested to define resistance more precisely.
Well, I tend to adopt the definition of resistance the way it is described by Karl Weick, that is:
Resistance is the emotion that occurs when our expectations of ‘the way things are’ are interrupted. Two words are important in this definition:
A – Emotion: the essence of resistance is that it creates an emotion. That means: not logical, not rational and most of all: not predictable.
B – Expectation: resistance does not only occur when things change, but when our expectations are interrupted, regardless of whether that makes rational sense.
As one of the commenters on LinkedIn put it:
Resistance is an indirect expression of fears of loss of control and vulnerability. It REQUIRES “peeling the onion” to uncover the roots of the affective reaction. Rather than being a “bad” thing, I have found that resistance is more often than not a signpost indicating a potential problem or set of problems that if left unattended could derail any initiative.
Another commenter simplified the definition (I like that a lot!) in a way that negative connotations are almost gone:
It’s often seen as a negative, however, it turns the light on to areas that really need attention. Just like the voice of our GPS saying, “recalculating”
Yet another commenter continued:
We struggle to find a place to put ‘resistance’, so that is doesn’t interfere with the ‘work’ or the outcomes. Seems to me that when we stop fighting it and see it for what it is (without judgment) we may understand better how to use it as a tool more effectively.”
And that is indeed the whole point: whether or not we categorize a certain behavior such or so; the difference is in the response we give. And the response can be one of Resentment, Regret, Rescue OR…. RESPECT. The whole point is that we choose our responses to the world.
Finally: thank you to all commenters on this blog and on Linkedin for fueling this discussion!