We often fear the wrong danger. We avoid something we believe will be unpleasant and open ourselves up to an outcome that is even more unpleasant—and more harmful.
You like people who are receptive to you and want to work with you. They are easier to schedule time with, more pleasant to deal with, and they aren’t challenging.
Your not crazy about people who aren’t receptive to you and oppose your initiative or solution. They don’t easily give you their time, they aren’t easy to deal with, and it is challenging to get from them the outcomes you need. They’re obstacles.
So you avoid difficult people, almost always to your detriment.
You believe that avoiding people who don’t support you will help you win an opportunity, when in reality “avoidance” is what costs you the opportunity.
- Proof you aren’t legit: Sometimes, an obstacle will use your avoidance as proof that you are not legit. If what you were doing was going to be so good for your prospective client, then why would you fear to engage with someone who has questions and concerns. Your obstacle can easily use the fact that you are avoiding them to prove that you don’t have good answers or the ability to deal with their concerns. Engaging proves that you believe in what you are proposing and will fearlessly defend it.
- No chance to mitigate problems: By avoiding your obstacle, you don’t give yourself a fair chance to mitigate their challenges. If what you are proposing is good for most of the people and bad for your obstacle, they are going to do everything they can to oppose your solution. And remember, you won’t be there when your obstacle corners your power sponsor to explain how your solution won’t work for them. By engaging with your obstacle, you get a chance to mitigate any problems you cause them, and you can share ideas with the rest of their team to prove you have done everything in your power to help the obstacle (or at least not hurt them).
- Making your obstacle feel insignificant: By avoiding your obstacle, you can also give them the appearance that you don’t recognize their significance. Without meaning to, you can make them feel as if you don’t believe they are important. When you make someone feel unimportant, you can create a scenario in which they want to help you understand how important they are. When you engage with an obstacle, you acknowledge their importance. Engagement doesn’t ensure you win their support, but it does lessen the likelihood that they feel the need to prove their importance.
Avoiding obstacles doesn’t make them go away. By engaging with your obstacles, you deal with the challenges that stand between you and a deal—instead of allowing it to kill your deal at the 11th hour.