We’ve all experienced stubborn people at some point in our careers. Once they have made a decision, their position becomes like a piece of granite. You won’t have much luck trying to move them by brute force. But what you can do is hand them a hammer and chisel and convince them that they have the capacity to use those tools to create a masterpiece. Let’s take a deeper look at how to deal with stubborn colleagues.
Why Are People Stubborn?
Before we talk about the most effective ways to lead stubborn people, it helps to understand them a little better.
You’ve probably heard of the psychological concept locus of control. Your locus of control is how strongly you believe you have control over situations and experiences that affect your life.
People who attribute their successes and failures to external forces, such as chance, fate or luck, have an external locus of control. They tend to be open to persuasion. They will consider and often rally behind a new concept or idea when a strong argument is made.
On the other hand, stubborn people tend to have an internal locus of control. They believe that internal forces, such as their own effort and hard work, strongly determine their outcomes. They admire consistency and certainty in themselves and others.
Neutral or weak arguments won’t sway stubborn people with an internal locus of control. At the same time, though, strong arguments often make them dig in their heels or even move in the opposite direction.
So how can you win over a stubborn person? Try the following approach.
3 Steps for Dealing Stubborn People
Of course, all of this must be communicated in a sincere and respectful way. You’re finding common ground with the stubborn person, not manipulating them.
Sometimes I get pushback on this process from people who think it ultimately gives the stubborn person too much credit for their idea. In turn, I ask them whether it’s more important to get credit or see an awesome idea become reality. Ultimately, our teams, our organizations and our society all benefit when great ideas become well-executed solutions.
This is the second of four personality styles that you may find in people who make work and life difficult. Missed Part 1? Learn how to deal with know-it-alls here. The next blog in this series will discuss a narcissistic personality style.
I’d love to hear your questions and comments. If you would like to discuss this topic further, just drop me a note.
Let’s keep cultivating our culture, together!