HYCS # 27 – How to Melt Resistance

HYCS # 27 – How to Melt Resistance

Is your client fixated on an idea? Help them move by playing with their mental blocks.

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Word Count: 590

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Assignment Time: no additional time

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We’ve all had clients who ask us for the impossible, the unethical, even the insane.  Maybe they ask you for a chunk of work by a deadline that is humanly impossible to achieve.  Maybe they ask for something unethical and destructive, like “we need to make them think this was their idea,” my current favorite.  Whatever it is, your clients have a good reason – even a compelling reason – for making their request.  But how do you find out what it is?    When a client is hiding their real interest, it’s tempting to blast through their resistance with a devastating show of brilliance.  But what if they don’t know themselves?  There is a better way.

You want to invite them to play with their mental blocks.  Models are one of the easiest ways to do this.

How Models Melt Resistance 

When I say “model,” you might think “diagram,” and diagrams do make great models.   But I want to expand your idea of the model.  A model can be almost anything that delivers these 3 benefits.  Models capable of rearranging mental blocks.

  • Simplify a complex reality
  • Relax the mind
  • Invite your client to play


Sure, you can do all these with your wit, your charm, your position power, your energy or your stellar track record.  Or you can let the client to do all that work on themselves by using a model.  Models syphon-off anxiety by making a place for the client to put all they’ve been trying to hold in their mind.  Models soothe and enable new thoughts to rush in.  This is true even when the client tears the model apart.

In addition to using other people’s models, you can start using your own.  Here’s where to start looking for them.

Where Models Hide

This is an overview of the 5 categories I find most helpful for melting resistance.  If you pay attention as you go through your day, you’ll find these things leaping out at you:

  • Diagrams/Doodles

If you draw circles or rectangles as you take notes, you may be very close to creating a model that will help your client organize their old thoughts and let new ones in.  Remember, you’re not after the perfect theory of everything with your diagram.  It doesn‘t have to be perfect.  You just want to let some air into the room.

  • Sayings and aphorisms

“Haste makes waste.”  “A stitch in time saves nine.”  These little truisms are embedded in our psyches.  And so many of them cut across cultures:  In the USA it’s “Measure twice, cut once.”  In Russia, it’s “Measure 7 times, cut once.”

  • Metaphors and analogies

I like to use concepts from the sciences, art, cooking and psychology.  The essence of metaphor and analogy is using one thing to understand another.

Metaphor:  “If this project was a person, who would it be?”

Analogy: “Managing this project is like spinning plates.”

  • Stories

We are hard-wired for stories, so it’s easy to relax into them.  I use Fairy tales, myths, media stories and personal stories.

  • Assessments

These are surprisingly effective, even over time.  Two examples are the plus-delta meeting evaluation, listing likes and concerns.


Using the framework I laid out above, start your own list of models.  If you’re like me, you’ll be adding to your list from time-to-time

Next week I’ll get into more detail about each category and give you some more examples.