It’s No Fun Casting Pearls at Mules

You know when you’ve been trying to help someone? I mean really help them, but they refuse to hear what you say? We’ve all faced the moment when we realize that someone is being a stubborn mule. I don’t mean to be cruel or harsh, but face it, you know what I am talking about.

Maybe the person is an employee or a boss. Or worst case, they are a family member, maybe even your spouse. Ouch! Regardless of the situation, there is an emerging reality that all of your valuable insight or suggestions are going unheard. The precious pearls of wisdom you try to share are falling on deaf ears. Here’s the solution.

While it is very easy to spot stubbornness in others, sometimes we are guilty of acting that way too. As a leader in any situation, you must at times deal with personalities that act stubborn. But what do others have to do when you are the stubborn one?

If you, the leader, are the one being the mule, the team will stop wanting to be open with you. They will pull back from the interaction. It’s human nature to avoid confrontation of this kind. In other words, it is easy for those around you to start asking themselves “why bother?”

What is Stubbornness?

Stubbornness is the tendency to resist any form of change.The person with stubbornness is driven by a fundamental resistance to being forced to do anything or experience anything against his will. The basic stance is, “No, I won’t, and you can’t make me.”

The personality with stubbornness is over-sensitive to the possibility of having sudden or unwanted change imposed upon itself and sees the threat of it everywhere. Anything new or different or involving change is perceived (subconsciously at least) as a direct threat—even if the change in question is positive and in the person’s best interests.

Like all character flaws, stubbornness involves the following components:

  1. Early negative experiences
  2. Misconceptions about the nature of self, life or others
  3. A constant fear and sense of insecurity
  4. A maladaptive strategy to protect the self
  5. A persona to hide all of the above in adulthood

Stubbornness is the most prevalent character flaw there is. We all have some degree of stubbornness within us, but more people have stubbornness as their chief feature than any other.

As with every chief personality feature (or flaw), the key is becoming conscious of how stubbornness operates in oneself. If you have stubbornness, you can begin by observing your outward persona in action:

  • Do I have a tendency to justify the status quo?
  • Do I generally argue against change or newness on seemingly logical grounds?
  • Do I often deride new ideas or suggestions?

The Deeper Dive

To fully eliminate stubbornness, you have to do more. You must agree to dig deeper.

  • Why do I resist change, newness? What am I afraid of?
  • What do I fear would happen to me if I allowed uncontrollable changes to happen?

Approaching the deepest level you may need outside help in the form of a counselor, therapist, coach, or at least a close friend:

  • Where does this fear of new situations come from?
  • How was I hurt in the past?
  • Can I let it go?

By genuinely exploring the source of your concern, you can calm the fears and doubts that cause the need to be stubborn. Yes, rigid rejection of change can look like stubbornness, yet it is usually tied to a deeper concern for facing change. If you agree to explore your inner resistance to change, you can begin to unwind the tangled views and actions that come out of being stubborn.

As you reduce the need to resist change, you can inspire others to be more open to bringing you ideas.

Question: What have you done lately to avoid being the stubborn one? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Portions of this text come from writings of Barry McGuinness

Originally posted on DougThorpe.com

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