Resistance as a Means of Progress


“Climbing the mountain is difficult and also only possible because the slope rises up against us.”- Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon

There can be no change in this world without encountering resistance. If we don´t firstly open up discussion and encounter opposition, no logical decision can be made. All factors must be weighed up.  But how does this differ across cultures? And why does this influence their progress?

Resistance is defined as the act of defending one’s position in response to confrontation (Miller & Rollnick 2002). In psychology it has been proposed that when told that your beliefs are “incorrect”, the natural response is to use resistance as a means of denial and rejection of the notion that you are wrong (Freud 1894). If this manifests itself when cultures interact, then it can seriously impede on international relations.

This communication pattern diagram devised by Lewis (2005) shows the different styles of interaction within 26 countries when observed in a business meeting environment.


Cultures are described in The Lewis Model as relating to one of three stereotypes: multi-active (warm, emotional, impulsive), linear-active (cool, factual or decisive planners) or reactive (courteous, amiable, accommodating, compromising). Resistance theoretically occurs when any of these norms collide with another in a clash of cultural traditions.

This is also indicative of the communication models described by Lewis; we see an increment within the diagram expanding when encountering resistance before reducing again and reaching a decision. This is reflected in societal terms wherein the “noise” surrounding polemic issues increases, before reducing and a decision is made.

For example, recently across-cultures, resistance against feminism has risen voraciously. Feminist campaigner, Caroline Criado-Perez was recently targeted with abusive messages (resistance encountered) when campaigning for equal representation of women on the British currency that resulted in Jane Austen being printed on all ten pound notes by 2017(decision made).

Although verbal resistance is a typical part of a decision-making process, the level of resistance differs intraculturally and ultimately impacts on societal progress. The link between resistance in verbal communication and resistance within ideology could even have the ability to hinder societal development. With each culture deeply enriched with traditions, arts, ideas, customs and social behaviour, it exists only by comparison of other cultures.

If “tradition [and culture] is just an excuse to make the same mistakes generation after generation” (Pluta, 2011), would a culture-neutral world reduce resistance both internally and externally? Or are culture and resistance part of a bigger picture?


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