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Resistance is likely to occur during the transitional phase when the group is in the process of creating stable relationships. For leaders, it is crucial to understand its purpose and learn how to address its outcomes effectively. This paper defines resistance and its reasons, as well as suggests possible techniques for managing individuals’ responses and behaviors. It concludes that although opposition may be challenging, it is also significant for development and positive change.
Resistance, Its Reasons and Management Techniques
Resistance can be expressed through a variety of definitions, as the concept does not have a single particular meaning. For example, this phenomenon may be understood as individuals’ behaviors or actions that are intended to cause disruption or challenges, as well as change existing relationships or situation. According to Hynes (2013), resistance has core elements that are acknowledged by all of the definitions of the concept.
They include action and opposition, meaning that the phenomenon is associated with active verbal or physical behavior and hostility to someone or something. Responses that may be perceived as resistance in a group may include becoming defensive, silent or angry.
Resistance may serve various purposes, especially during the transition phase of a group. As usually it occurs as a result of anxiety, the loss of control, and is linked to the perceptions of justice, its primary goal is to express the adverse feelings associated with high expectations and discontent, as well as to express the desire for power (Georgalis, Samaratunge, Kimberley, & Lu, 2015). It is necessary to mention that resistance may be beneficial as well because, if properly managed, it provides an opportunity for growth for both a leader and the group.
It is crucial for leaders to respond to resistance during the transitional stage as the struggle for control, conflicts, and challenges at this phase are the greatest. To do so, it is necessary to evaluate the grounds for such a situation first. A leader should try to assess his or her perspectives related to resistance and examine, whether the problem is caused by poor communication, inadequate expectations of a group, or personal conditions of individuals, including depression. It is crucial not to avoid the issue even when its reasons are unclear. The possible strategy of managing oppression can include listening to the opinions of the group’s members, discussing their concerns, and developing a plan for improvement.
If some individuals are silent, it may be effective to have a personal conversation with them, stressing the significance of communication, as it is the only way to attain the positive change of the situation. For example, a person does not agree with the ideas proposed by the group but decides to restrain from expressing their opinion. The reasons for it may be the lack of confidence or the feeling of vulnerability. It is necessary for a leader not to put the person in an uncomfortable position by discussing their concerns publically; personal conversation may eliminate their negative emotions and show them that they are valuable for the group.
Another reason for anxiety and defensive behavior may occur if an individual becomes a part of a group involuntarily. It may happen if a person does not like his team members or the tasks they are required to perform. The unhealthy or unwelcoming environment may result in negative emotions and behaviors as well. To solve the problem, it is crucial to identify the core of the problem and improve the participants’ expectations or conditions.
Resistance may be challenging for both a leader and the group members. It may be expressed through anxiety, defensive behaviors, and anger. It is necessary to address resistance even when its reasons are unclear. The most effective method of its management is defining the present problems and discussing them with a group, acknowledging their concerns and fears. It is also necessary to establish personal communication with participants, as it allows for maintaining the problem on a deeper level and ensuring that individuals feel comfortable and content.
Georgalis, J., Samaratunge, R., Kimberley, N., & Lu, Y. (2015). Change process characteristics and resistance to organisational change: The role of employee perceptions of justice. Australian Journal of Management, 40(1), 89-113.
Hynes, M. (2013). Reconceptualizing resistance: Sociology and the affective dimension of resistance. The British Journal of Sociology, 64(4), 559-577.