Sharon Drew Morgen

Resistance to Guidance: Why Sales, Coaching, and Leadership Practices Falter

Do you know what’s stopping you or your company from making the changes necessary to have more success? Or why prospects aren’t buying something they need? Or why clients aren’t adopting the changes they seek? The problem is resistance. And as change agents we’re inadvertently creating it.

Change requires that a complacent status quo risk its comfort for something unknowable – the probable loss of narrative, expectations, habitual activities and assumptions with no real knowledge of what will take its place. People don’t fear the change; they fear the disruption.

The Status Quo of the System

To understand why our status quo is tenacious we must understand systems. Simply, a system – for the sake of this article families, corporations, or individuals – is:

  1. a collection of policies, beliefs, agreements, goals and history, uniquely developed over time, which
  2. embrace uniform rules that are
  3. recognized and accepted by all and
  4. constitute the foundation of all decisions.

Because of the law of homeostasis (simply, all systems seek stability) any change potentially disrupts the status quo and will be resisted, even if the ‘new’ is more effective; even if the system seeks the change; even if the persuader is skilled at persuasion tactics.

Until or unless a system is able to shift its rules so that the new product, idea or implementation has the ability to fit in and new rules are adopted that reconfigure the status quo from within, change faces an uphill battle. The system is sacrosanct.

To get folks to change their minds or accept a solution and avoid resistance, it’s necessary to first:

  • help the system discover the differences between the new and the old,
  • help the system discover the details of the risk,
  • facilitate an acceptable route to managing the risk,
  • facilitate buy-in from the right people/elements

regardless of the efficacy of the proposed change or the need.

Our Guidance Pushes Against Stable Systems

Entire fields ignore these change management issues to their detriment:

  • the sales model fails 95% of the time because it attempts to push a new solution into the existing status quo, without first facilitating a buyer’s non-need change issues;
  • coaches end up needing 6 months with clients to effect change as they keep trying to push new behaviors into an old system – and then blame clients for not listening’ or believing they have the ‘wrong’ clients;
  • consultants and leaders have a high rate of failed implementations as they attempt to push the new into the old without first collaboratively designing new structures that will accept the change.

Persuasion and manipulation tactics and guidance strategies merely push against a stable system. As outsiders, it’s unlikely we can acquire the historic knowledge and consensus from all relevant insiders, or design the new rules for systemic change, for our ideas or solutions to gain broad acceptance throughout the system.

We can, however, facilitate the system in changing itself. Then the choice of the best solution becomes a consequence of a system that is ready, willing, and able to adopt excellence.

Obviously, having the right solution does not cause change: pitching, suggesting, influencing, or presenting before a system has figured out how to manage change is not only a time waste, but causes resistance and rejection of the proposed solution. So all of our logic, rational, good content, reasoning, or persuasion tactics are useless until the system is ready. Facilitate change first, then offer solutions in the way that the system can use it.

The question is: do you want to place a solution? Or expedite congruent change?

Listening for Systems, Facilitating Change

For the past 30 years I have designed unique models that facilitate change from the inside. Used in sales, and now being used in the coaching industry, my Buying Facilitation® model offers a unique skill set that teaches systems how to change themselves, and includes listening for systems rather than content, and a new way to use questions (Read Dirty Little Secrets ( whether you use my model or develop one of your own, you must begin by facilitating change, not by attempting to first ‘understand need’ or place a solution or idea.

I’m suggesting that you change your accustomed practices: the idea of no longer listening for holes in a client’s logic to offer guidance goes against the grain of sellers, coaches, and consultants. By listening for systems, by focusing on facilitating change and enabling consensus and change management, change agents are more likely to sell, coach, and implement.

I’ve written a new book (What?) to help you hear what others are really saying rather than just what you want to hear. I’ve made it free: Read it, and then let’s start a conversation. Let’s begin to think of managers, sellers, leaders, and coaches as true consultants who can hear what their clients mean. Let’s add a few facilitation skills and be the agents of real change with integrity.

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is founder of Morgen Facilitations, Inc. ( She is the visionary behind Buying Facilitation®, the decision facilitation model that enables people to change with integrity. A pioneer who has spoken about, written about, and taught the skills to help buyers buy, she is the author of the acclaimed New York Times Business Bestseller Selling with Integrity and Dirty Little Secrets: Why buyers can’t buy and sellers can’t sell and what you can do about it.

To contact Sharon Drew at [email protected] or go to to choose your favorite digital site to download your free book.

StrategyDriven Podcast Special Edition 63 – An Interview with Victoria Grady, author of The Pivot Point

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Special Edition 63 – An Interview with Victoria Grady, author of The Pivot Point explores the psychology behind employees resistance to change and the actions leaders can take to more effectively move their organization to a state of high, post-change productivity. During our discussion, Victoria Grady, author of The Pivot Point: Success in Organizational Change, shares with us her insights and experiences regarding:

  • the underlying psychology driving employees resistance to change
  • observable differences in employee behaviors as driven by changing circumstances and the resulting organizational impacts
  • quantitative measurement of employees response to change and how this information can inform management’s change management efforts
  • actions leaders should take to better prepare their organization to overcome the resistance to change

Additional Information

In addition to the outstanding insights Victoria shares in The Pivot Point and this special edition podcast are the resources accessible from her website, Victoria’s book, The Pivot Point, can be purchased by clicking here.

Victoria was recently featured by We Mean Business in an interviewed entitled Understanding Resistance. Click here to access this video.

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About the Author

Victoria Grady, author of The Pivot Point, is an Assistant Professorial Lecturer in the Department of Organizational Science within the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences at The George Washington University. Her consulting practice includes federal government institutions, nonprofit organizations, and private sector companies. To read Victoria’s complete biography, click here.

Before You Try to Change Your Organization, Understand Why People Fight it So Fiercely

Change is hard. Changing your organization is even harder – sometimes, nearly impossible. In doing the research for my new book, I discovered that a study at revealed that nearly half of all smokers who have had surgery for early stage lung cancer go back to smoking in just a year!

So even the threat of death isn’t enough to force some people to change. And yet we all know that in today’s world of disruptive, 24/7 change, responding well is critical to our success. So as you struggle with your employees, associates, bosses, and others to try to shift your organization’s thinking – and before you jump out a window in frustration, it’s good to have a reminder of the reasons people work so hard to resist change. Figure out which of these applies to you, and how to overcome it, and you’ll be well on your way to seeing the birth of a transformed organization.

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About the Author

Phil Cooke is a television producer and media consultant at Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California. His new book is ‘Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing.‘. Find out more at