You have something you really want to do in your organization. Or with your partner. Or in your life.
But there's a quiet fear that they just aren't going to go for it.
And you really want it. You know in your heart of hearts that this is important. What do you do?
Shut it down before it's even started, blame it on the infamous "they" for not letting you be fabulous, and let it go? OR get in there, face it head on, and make it happen?
If you're doing it for the right reasons and your leadership wisdom is taking you there--yeah--you get in there.
But how do you address naysayers (even if they're just in your imagination)? You need a plan. Here you go:
First, identify your "naysayers" (real or imagined).
I see more people stop in their tracks when they want to do something because "they" aren't going to go for it; "They won't let me." When asked who the actual "they" are... it all falls apart.
Who's your "they"? Check it out, drill down. "They" are often a figment of your imagination, an assumption, or one or two key people you need to connect and have a conversation with.
More often than not, "they" will not only be a "yes" but a supporter of your cause because you're "showing up", asking for what you want, and pointing them towards something important.
If you're willing to step in and lead here, you'll find that "they" often become your biggest partners and champions. But you have to step in.
Second, prepare to "sell" your idea (or not).
Let's just say the "they" is legit, and "they" really don't want you to do it. It helps if you know where they're coming from. This is where empathy and curiosity are king.
When someone is a "no" to something, it's usually for one (or a combination of) the following reasons: they don't understand it, they can't see the vision, they need more information, they feel threatened by it, they really do think it's a bad idea, or, it might be you and the energy and intention you're bringing to the table. (This is more common than most realize--attitude and vibes make and break deals all the time.)
So get curious... What's really going on? What is the true resistance about? What's not being said? How are you showing up in this request? Go a bit deeper into the conversation. Your goal here is not to "sell" but rather to understand, partner, andenroll.
Third, lock it in, or embrace the "no" and do the "dance of alignment".
Once they're enrolled, and you've addressed what's really going on, you should be in pretty good shape to lock it in and get moving.
But let's say they're not. It's truly a big "no". But you still feel it's essential.
Hit up purpose, and the bigger "why" of the opportunity. How is this thing in alignment with the bigger picture or something they want? How can it truly serve? What is the shared goal you and your naysayer have that you can align around?
Years ago I worked with a company who had two partners. One partner wanted out. But they were in the midst of exploring an acquisition by another company and her exit would have complicated the plan, potentially putting the business and their employees at risk. But she wanted out. They duked it out, went through the steps above, and still couldn't come to an agreement. Until they hit up alignment and purpose.
The place of alignment and shared reality, that landed them in peaceful resolution, was that they'd started this company together and had made a commitment to each other and to the employees who trusted them.
They agreed that she would stay for six months (with a smile) and help them all get to the next step. They also tweaked her day to day involvement in the business so that everyone got more of what they wanted.
There are many ways their story could have ended, many of them in tension, anger, resentment, and exhaustion. But by taking the time to work through it, they landed kindly and with integrity.
She wanted something, he said "no", and they found their way forward that served the bigger picture, the people, and her original desire.
Find your "they", figure out what's really going on, and then move forward. Your naysayers can be your greatest gift in leadership and in honing the quality of your results. Addressed with intention and empathy, your ideas will either move forward as you originally wished them, or more likely will be even better due to the care and attention that comes from quality collaboration and partnership.
This article first appeared on Inc.com on January 26, 2015.