Mounica Veggalam

1 little-known skill to 10x your influence and handle pushback

Published over 1 year ago • 6 min read

The Best Way To Handle Pushback Without Needing To Memorize Communication Tactics— Become A Resistance Detector

Read time: 5 mins

Dear Friend, Subscriber And Leader,

Chuck all your communication tactics.

Today, I'm going to give you a new way of thinking to become more influential in your conversations, handle pushback with grace and avoid you being drained like a squeezed-out dish rag at the end of a day full of meetings.

I recently ran a poll on what causes meeting fatigue and got interesting results:

The 33% of people who answered "Their resistance to change" were managers.

The other 48% who answered "Solving ambiguity" were ICs.

You would think your meeting fatigue is because of the sheer number of meetings on your calendar. Although that might be true, the bigger reason for your fatigue as a leader, is aligning people and handling pushback.

The polls confirms the strong hunch I had from talking to clients, and my experience coaching people. Is that your experience as well? Could you reply to this email and tell me?

So, how do you handle pushback without mental fatigue?

Before we dive in:

I'm working on a course that will solve this exact problem for any Senior Technical Leader.

If you want to get better at influence, feel energized from your conversations and dive deeper into effective communication, you'll love this course. In 2-3 weeks, we'll establish your personalized mechanism to handle pushback. You'll leave with 5+ personalized conversation templates, tons of practice through role-play, and confidence in your influential leadership.

>>Fill out this quick 1-min survey if you're interested.

There are 2 types of systems working in you.

If you've read Danial Kahneman's Thinking fast and slow, you might be familiar with the 2 systems of thinking:

  • Fast thinking (processing non-verbal information and making decisions quickly)
  • Slow thinking (conscious decision-making and self-control).

(Btw, kudos to you if you finished reading this book. I dozed off whenever I picked it up.)

I have a similar theory to explain the mental fatigue from pushback. I keep returning to this theory after observing my clients. I see it everywhere— my coach training, conversations with my coach, and even the eastern spiritual wisdom.

So, there are 2 systems in you:

  1. The creative, intellectual, logical self
  2. The survival system that keeps you alive.

Most people think they're operating from the 1st system the logical, creative and intellectual. At least at work, right?

But the kicker is that we're operating from our survival system more than we think. No matter how brilliant we are. No matter how evolved we are. No matter how much awareness, therapy, and coaching we got.

Almost all the time, our responses in any conversation come from the 2nd system— our survival system.

The survival system puts up resistance in a sneaky way.

Your ideas to solve a problem follow from your worldview, your experience, your intellect, and your creativity— the system 1.

But once the idea is formed, your survival system takes over. It wants to get your idea executed at all costs.

  • Your success depends on the acceptance of this idea.
  • Your self-worth depends on the acceptance of this idea.
  • Your acceptance in the world depends on the acceptance of this idea.

It becomes personal.

The survival system creates resistance to keep you in the zone of uniqueness, worthiness, and acceptance.

Here's the secret we don't want to admit: Often, we think we're responding to logical arguments. But we're actually arguing from our resistance against their resistance.

Pause and Read that again.

This is true even when you intend to be collaborative and open to other ideas when dealing with uncertainty. This resistance will take over if those other ideas don't uphold your worldview.

We know this somewhere and want to get over these primitive urges of anger, fear, and shame. This constant fight between the 2 systems takes up so much mental energy.

And imagine as a leader, you have to fight your own survival system and lead others to fight theirs through conversations that influence, inspire and execute your vision.

Double drain.

Is there a way out?

Short Answer: Yes. Become a Resistance Detector.

Long Answer:

Don't just focus on the words. Focus on the resistance waves behind the words.

Yours and theirs.

Know that the survival systems have kicked up when:

  • there is slight frustration or agitation.
  • they pause and search for the right words.
  • they're hesitant to share what they're thinking.
  • there is nervous laughter and a tendency to make jokes.
  • you feel a craving to repeat your point in different ways.
  • the other person is going in circles repeating what they said.

Stop all your efforts to drive your point home, and make space for the resistance to exist.

There is nothing wrong with anyone when resistance shows up. It's how we're wired.

Your influence starts when you bring this understanding and make space for the resistance in your conversation container.

It sounds simple and easy to write in an article but tough to execute.

Start with this practice:

Practice "tasting" resistance like you would taste a strawberry.

In any conversation going forward, your job is not to

  • Make them listen to you
  • Stop their resistance or pushback
  • Get the sign-off or get a 'Yes' from them

Your only job is to detect resistance and make space for it.

Be fascinated by the different unique ways resistance shows up. Said another way, put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and detect the resistance. When you detect it, taste it like you would taste a strawberry.

What does it taste like?

Does your breath change? Has it gone hot or cold? Is your belly contracted? Are your hands folded? Is it your resistance you're sensing or theirs? What's the tone of their voice? If the air between you had a taste, what would it taste like?

When you do this, you develop a capacity to handle two conflicting survival systems in your conversation container. People open up and share their true concerns, and you can start solving real problems.

I have more tactical tips here in this LinkedIn Post.

I've come to the conclusion that the best executive coaches have become master Resistance Detectors. That's a big part of how they cause massive transformation in the most hardened behavior patterns (and can sell coaching packages costing upwards of $70k USD).

In my upcoming course, I am going to dive into how to develop the skill of Resistance Detection. I'll guide you (along with my co-instructor Paulo Andre)

  • to detect your survival system so you can handle pushback with grace and increase your influence
  • to create personalized templates for the various conversations you have daily (1:1s, team meetings, peer performance discussions) so you can master them
  • to establish your personal influence style through practical exercises and role-play.

If that sounds interesting, fill out this quick 1-min form to get on the waitlist. I plan to send early bird discounts and bonus in-depth guides in the coming weeks.

Alright, that's all for now.

Keep diving deep and keep growing!

Here are those links again:

Link to the tactical guide to listening

Link to my course waitlist


Mounica Veggalam

Thanks for reading! If you loved it, forward this email to a friend.

I respect your attention. If these emails are not insightful to you, I encourage you to unsubscribe here - I'll always be grateful for the time we got to connect.

113 Cherry St #92768, Seattle, WA 98104-2205

Mounica Veggalam

Executive Presence and Performance Coach

Hey, there! I talk about non-linear growth strategies and leadership development for tech leaders. Get mindset deep dives to break through into senior leadership roles.

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