Difficult Personalities In The Workplace #2 – Naysayers
By always finding fault, they slow down decision-making processes and delay projects. Their opposition may feel like personal attacks or intentional derailing of conversations. It can also make people around them feel very negative.
What is a naysayer?
Have you ever had to defend your ideas from someone who consistently points out everything wrong with it? Terms we use to describe people like this include nitpickers, opposers, and fault-finders – but in this article, the term we will use is naysayers.
A naysayer is defined as “one who denies, refuses, opposes, or is sceptical or cynical about something”. They always seem to see the worst in every situation, pointing out the problems and the shortcomings. Remember Jim Carrey in his movie Yes Man before he started saying “yes” to everything? Classic example.
Why is it difficult to work with a naysayer?
It is difficult to work with a naysayer because they can cause significant hold-ups in projects that need to be finished urgently. By always finding fault, they slow down decision-making processes and delay projects. Their opposition may feel like personal attacks or intentional derailing of conversations. It can also make people around them feel very negative.
Is it really possible to work with a naysayer?
Naysayers can actually be very beneficial to a business. Their persistent fault-finding might help to identify some real problems that could have caused a project to fail. Try not to shoot down their criticism before you have really considered it, and don’t see them as being resistant on purpose. However, it is very important for them to understand that projects cannot be delayed and that they will have to learn how and when to express their criticism.
The naysaying manager
Getting ideas past a manager that resists change can be a real challenge. Instead of bombarding them with all of your ideas at once, do it one at a time. Set up a presentation with your suggestions backed up with supporting data. If you can propose it as a cost-cutting method, even better – managers are always under pressure to trim costs. Look at your proposal from their point of view and remember that it is them that will be taking the risk, not you.
The naysaying colleague
Don’t get angry with your naysaying colleague. Carefully consider the opposition they give as it might be useful. Remember that they probably want your project to succeed just as much as you do. Be transparent with your own decisions and never refuse to explain your reasoning to your colleague. Don’t take their criticism personally and ask them to help come up with solutions to the problems they point out.
The naysaying employee
Teach your naysaying employee to come up with solutions to the problems they identify before coming to you with the opposition. Tell them that you understand WHY something can’t be done, but that you want them to tell you HOW it can be done. Sometimes an employee might seem resistant to do something because they don’t fully understand it. Take the time to explain it to them and offer them a bigger picture.
The naysaying client
Clients often resist suggestions because they feel out of control and they don’t understand what you are doing. Getting angry at them won’t help. Take the time to explain to them why you make certain decisions. Ask for their input and ensure them that it will be seriously considered. Redirect their focus to something they can do to help that will keep them busy while you get your job done.
It is important to remember that naysayers almost never have bad intentions with their opposition – they truly want to help and are experts at identifying problems. They can be a real asset to your business if they are managed correctly. However, if they cause serious negativity among the other people in your business or cause you to consistently miss important deadlines, it might be time to consider serious intervention.