How do you get through a meeting when everything that you say is met with opposition?
This was the situation facing me last Friday. Later on this year, the community project that I am leading is putting on an ambitious event. We have aimed for stars, dreamt big, shifted mindsets and gathered support and momentum in making it happen. It is starting to take shape, there is energy and am feeling quite proud of what we have achieved so far.
And as I sat in front of a small group of people explaining our proposal it is met with continual opposition. For every sentence I uttered there was a negative response – ‘it wouldn’t work’, ‘something similar is already planned’, ‘you’ll struggle to get permission’….with a number of ‘I know this sounds negative but…’
Within a few minutes I went from elation to deflation and from being proud to feeling unworthy. I could literally feel the energy draining away from me. And as I told my story, argued my case, tried to engage them emotionally, I knew that it didn’t matter what I said, I would not get their approval and support. I maintained my composure, remained professional and tried to be rational and objective.
By the time I left, I knew that I had ‘lost’.
For the rest of the day I struggled to focus due to the multitude of emotions that were surging through me – from anger and outrage to plotting exposure and revenge!
I could have quite happily carried on in this state though was sharply reminded of the words of Eckhart Tolle about ‘dwelling on a situation mentally’ and ‘carrying in your mind the insane burden of a hundred things that you will or may have to do in the future’
Using self coaching, 2 questions surfaced: ‘What do I need to focus my attention on right now? and ‘What action can I take ?’
- Talked about it – I met up with a few friends for coffee, ‘blew off steam’, gained some fresh impartial perspectives and more importantly a sounding board which prevented me from taking some rash, knee jerk actions
a) I did not do enough preparation and made assumptions – I am not into politics, local council, government…I don’t know much about what they do and how they do it….These people turned out to have powers that I didn’t even know existed!
b) More so, they had networks and connections that I have never heard of and this made them influential and powerful.
There was a lot of learning to be done and information to be gathered which I spent the evening doing – albeit too late!
- Started to take action. Stephen Covey’s Circles of Control and Influence pops into my mind. What can I do to increase my circle of influence? I have become involved in the voluntary and community sectors and need to build my own influence and networks within them. I have arranged to meet up with some influential people who I hope will become my advocates.
As I write this, I am reminded that when we are stretched, challenged and faced with obstacles, whilst finding them difficult, uncomfortable and sometimes painful, it is through such acts that we build our resilience, grow and develop. Bring it on!
What is your experience of such situations? How did you handle them? What tips and advice can you share?Song by Chumbawamba: I get knocked down, But I get up again, You’re never going to keep me down
I’m a professional coach (MA in Coaching & Mentoring) helping you to progress, make successful changes, be a more effective leader and communicator, improve your performance and team working. I specialise in working with leaders, teams and women through a blended approach of individual and team coaching, training, facilitation and action learning.