Do you ever notice that adding more pressure when you’re meeting a lot of resistance in a project or person doesn’t always work?
Sure, tenacity and endurance have their place, but more force can also exacerbate the problem and make you break something (your motivation, reputation or relationships).
Instead of pushing harder when something’s not working, step back.
Get a bird’s eye view. Check what’s happening up river.
Test the brakes a bit instead of hitting the gas and wondering why you’re not moving forward.
So, how can you tell the difference? How do you know whether to lean in or lean back?
Use your emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence will inform you of the pros and cons of pushing harder or laying off the gas and which one is best in the scenario you’re in.
Take convincing your manager to let you lead a project as an example.
You’re trying to convince him or her to get on board and support you, but they’re reluctant. You keep pushing with, “If I just give them more examples, if I just get more time to make my argument, if I just push harder, they’ll get it, they’ll buy in.”
But if you take a step back, you might see the warning signs for what they are: indicators to find another approach or solution.
Start to ask a few questions and explore their pain points instead of doubling down and potentially making things worse. Open up the conversation and let them weigh in. Perhaps your boss already has someone else in mind or maybe the project is dead in the water but can’t share that yet, so they have context you don’t.
By digging a little deeper, identifying the friction, and taking another angle, you can avoid the loss of leadership and find a new possibility where everyone wins.
So, the next time you’re pushing without getting anywhere, identify the friction – the point where the rubber meets the road – and use it to find new answers and solutions you didn’t have access to before. By not being open to recognize the real friction and shifting your tactics to overcome it, you could be standing in the way of your own success.
I’d love to hear from you! How often have you felt like you’ve been unable to influence effectively? How will you approach the situation differently going forward?