How You Can Manage a Naysayer in your team

Business Communication 4th April 2017 Rochelle D'Almeida

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Having someone in your team who disagrees or says ‘no’ many a time is both good and bad. Good because you have someone who’s a thinker, but turns bad if they constantly critique because it’s in their DNA. Even when it’s nothing personal it lowers your morale and the team work slows down, especially when you don’t want conflicts and better efficiency. And, yet you don’t know how to manage a naysayer in your team. Right? Well, here’s how you can get them to get their act right without asking them to lose their bright side.

Ask for opposition

Make it a habit of asking if anyone has an objection. Make it clear that it’s important to arrive at a consensus and discuss what even one person may think is worthy of consideration. By doing this you’re encouraging everyone to think critically, question and counter question. There may be heated arguments, but that shouldn’t affect your peace of mind. It’s work after all. Besides, when you have an open door policy it also lessens the likelihood of seeing objections as threats and also makes it easier to manage a naysayer.

Related: How to Exercise Power and Influence in an Organization

Don’t dismiss right away

Back in school, we all had one classmate who had questions or would question a teacher’s logic, right? Teachers who encouraged critical thinking let that child speak while others who detested would shut them up, literally or throw them out of the class. Now think about your team. Some may be the ‘yes sir/ma’am’ members while others who may just be curious and ask questions or object. If it is a valid point then discuss it with the rest of the team. If no one agrees then just politely say you need to move on and that if there are other concerns, then those can be discussed and reviewed later.

Related: 5 Ways to Improve Employee Productivity

Ask for a solution

This should help you understand whether they really do have an alternative perspective or they’re saying no for the heck of it to waste time. Put the ball in their court and ask them for a solution if what you propositioned was not reasonable for them. It will give them the platform to be a part of the solution instead of being weeded out for being an eternal naysayer. This is in fact, an incredible way to manage a naysayer.

Related: How to Work with Colleagues with Conflicting Opinions

Establish boundaries

Some toxic naysayers are outright disrespectful and can hurt anyone considering each has their threshold of tolerance. Just so they don’t overstep the border say it out loud in the meeting that disagreeing is one thing and disrespecting another. Tell them that difference of opinion is apparent, but name calling and pointing fingers isn’t. You’ll see that the point will be noted and the conversation will be more civil and guarded.

Related: Eliminating Bad Behaviour: Managing a Toxic Employee

Respond with logic

When they’re saying no without any rhyme or reason, don’t respond with emotions. Present facts. That way the conversation will be more focused and not about the naysayer only. Get the team to speak too so that everyone’s on the same page. This helps everyone understand that the naysayer is being picked for no reason whatsoever. This will ensure that others get into deliberations and not think of conflicts as detrimental to the team.

Related: Challenging, but possible: Guilt-free Ways to Say No the Right Way

You see opposition is necessary because the more ideas float in the room better the chances of critical thinking and better the outcomes. Next time a naysayer in your team has something to say, don’t resist. Contrary to what you think the attack may not be personal at all. Besides you need to exercise control over your reactions too.


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