Dealing with Naysayers

Every process improvement, every experiment, requires us to persuade others. There is a diversity of ideas, of needs, of requirements from stakeholders. I’ve written before about practicing “Yes..But…And“. Sometimes you just find people who are in naysayer category and you should have strategies for dealing with them. Try these:

  • Have you acknowledged the individual and their concerns? Sometimes the person simply wants to acknowledged. Although the naysayer’s actions can be frustrating because they are delaying the process of implementing, it can be worth it – and save time in the long run – to meet with the individual and listen to their concerns and thoughts.
  • What is the person not saying? Do they feel threatened or excluded?
  • As the individual how they would handle the challenge your idea seeks to solve. When you listen to them, you may find you have a kernel of common agreement upon which to build. Listen to their arguments against your idea – that could help you as you sell your idea to stakehoders and build an army of volunteers.
  • Does your idea potentially affect the naysayer’s area? Could it be a matter of a turf war? Can you gain insights by seeing things from their perspective – for example how would you feel if someone offered a similar idea that affected your team?
  • Does the person have someone whom they respect and will listen to? Can you discuss your idea with that individual and ask them to speak with the naysayer?
  • Are there other allies whom you can persuade and whom you can gain as allies to counter the naysayer? You may have to accept that the naysayer won’t come around to your idea.
  • Reach out to the naysayer for casual conversation to try to establish a collegial bond and build a better relationship for the long term.
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