Caroline Bolderston: Beware the ‘resistance zone’

Have you ever considered how the words that you use might have a profound impact on your outcomes?

Have you ever experienced being in a conversation with a vendor, and suddenly, you sense a shift in the dynamic and you can’t quite pinpoint what triggered it?

If so, you are not alone and it may mean that you have entered the resistance zone by using high resistant language… and you don’t even know it.

We often underestimate the power of the words we use and how they can inadvertently build up resistance and tension.

Even worse, the words we use can invalidate the perspectives of our clients and lead to them feeling unheard, embarrassed or even stupid. 

I continually take note of the words agents I work with use, so that I can help them identify where they’re going wrong.

Over time, I have identified the three most commonly used high resistant language patterns that land agents in dangerous territory.

Let’s take a look:  

1. “With the greatest respect” (with all due respect, with respect or, respectfully)   

Using this phrase is usually intended to soften the effect of disagreeing with or criticising someone.

It is a polite approach that is used to show respect for the individual, while still pointing out their thinking is wrong. 

But, have you considered what is really happening when this phrase is used?

Consider the talks you have with potential vendors about the value of their home.

The prospect compares their property with others that have recently sold.

You can plainly see that the properties they are using as benchmarks are either superior in location, accommodation or features, and the client holds the  belief that their property is similar or perhaps even higher in value. 

You have just entered the resistance zone with them. Two opposing perspectives and views.

The minute you use the phrase “with respect Mr/Mrs vendor ……” tension is immediately built as they know you are about to oppose or discredit what they have just said.

This can swiftly lead the prospect to feeling that you are in opposition to them.

They can develop feelings of anger, frustration and annoyance. None of which will help you get where you want to go. 

Instead, try the technique of immediately validating their thinking by saying, “Yes, I can see that these sales definitely have some bearing on perceived value, can I also share some other insights with you?” 

By validating them and backing their thinking, then asking for permission to add or share an alternate view, you have lowered the resistance zone and created a collaborative space rather than a space of conflict with high resistance . 

2. “You need to understand”  

I don’t know about you, but I never like to be told I’m wrong, that my perspective is inaccurate or that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

I’ve never met anyone who does like to be told this.

So, it stands to reason, that using the phrase “You need to understand” creates an oppositional stance and you’re effectively telling the other party they, “Just don’t get it”.

It’s another way to immediately create high resistance. 

Rather than saying “You need to understand”, try a response of, “Thanks so much for sharing your views, it’s important that we look at this from all angles. I am wondering if we should also consider X, Y and Z”.  

3. Using the word “but”  

‘But’ is such a small seemingly harmless little word.

Beware – it can have major and substantial consequences.

Consider this, you are talking with a client after selling their property unconditionally and they say to you, “You did a wonderful job, but….” 

How do you feel at that moment? Instantly, you know that something negative is coming.

Our emotional response is to ignore everything that came before the “but”.

We immediately focus on what comes after it. Why?

Because intuitively we recognise this is what they really think, feel or intend.

The resistance zone has been entered and the defences go up immediately. 

Take a moment to ponder how often you use the word “but”?

At a recent group training session we talked about the resistance zone and how to be more away of high resistant language.

We ran through some dialogue for negotiation, pitching for business and progressing a pipeline seller to come to market soon.

The agents were astonished how often they used the word “but”.

Thankfully, this is one of the easiest instances of high resistance language to fix.

Instead of saying “but”, you can use the word “and” instead.

What makes it even better is, it improves the delivery of your statement and reception of feedback.

The words you choose will determine your level of success in the real estate industry.

Agents who consciously employ low resistance language have a greater chance of building strong relationships, resolving conflicts, and achieving their clients’ goals.

It’s about refining your communication skills and positioning yourself as a partner and collaborator with your clients.

Let’s master the art of low resistance language and swiftly unlock better interactions and far greater outcomes and results.

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Caroline Bolderston

Caroline Bolderston heads up Being Bold Coaching and training, which provides coaching and support for Sales Agents, Sales Teams and Principals. For more information visit