You’re running a construction business. You have things to accomplish. But there are naysayers!
Before deciding which of the three ways to handle a naysayer in any given circumstance, it is essential to determine if the person lives in a constant and continual state of negativity, if this is a one-time reaction, or if they haven’t been given all the information – yet.
Let’s face it. Some folks seem to have been born with a lemon in their mouths. They seem incapable of looking at an idea without forecasting dire results.
Perhaps they feel that “ordinary” people are incapable of “extraordinary” thoughts or behavior. Or it could be that their determination to “be safe” and keep you “safe” outweighs their desire for anything involving risk, exposure, or uncertain outcomes.
The irony of this type of naysaying activity is that sometimes you’re “safer” by ignoring their advice and pushing forward with your ideas, plans, and strategies.
Don’t play in their sandbox – don’t engage.
“History shows us that the people who end up changing the world – the great political, social, scientific, technological, artistic, even sports revolutionaries – are always nuts, until they are right, and then they are geniuses.” – John Eliot PhD
Listen and Learn from Them
Naysayers aren’t always wrong.
On the morning of June 16, 1949, my parents were married in a small church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Soon after the festivities, they headed north to Santa Fe for their honeymoon. Because neither of them had been to the capital city before, they decided to drive around, taking in the fresh air and unfamiliar sights.
As my (then future) dad escorted my (then future) mom about town in their Ford Sedan, one naysaying gentleman (obviously hoping to avoid disaster) hollered, “Hey, this is a one-way street!” To which the ever-witty man who would become my dad called back, “I’m only going one way!”
Of course, this oft-repeated story ended with Dad’s clever comeback. I never learned how the starry-eyed newlyweds removed themselves from traveling the wrong way on a one-way street – without being involved in a head-on collision.
Some naysayers genuinely do have your welfare in mind. Ignoring them can be disastrous.
Discounting anyone with something negative to say about you or your construction business (keeping away all criticism) can be counterproductive. Engaging only with “yes men” can be a recipe for failure.
Sometimes you must swallow your pride, listen to the naysayer, and learn from his or her knowledge, experience, or wisdom.
Three things to consider when determining if the naysayer has credence:
They’re successful in their sphere
Their advice has proved correct in the past
You’re paying them for their expertise
Two more (opposite – yet important) things to consider:
They’ve lived a long time (yes, sometimes wisdom comes with age)
They’re young (and they “get” some of the things you don’t)
It is normal to start discussions of opinions opposed to our own by finding reasons why those differing opinions are wrong. Makes sense. We don’t purposefully do what we think is the wrong thing to do. But you may develop a new and improved version of your ideas and plans by listening to, hearing out, and thinking about what the naysayer has to add to the discussion.
One way to take advantage of the information provided by naysayers is to understand the source of their objection. Why are they so dang pessimistic about this situation? What do they know that you don’t?
But other times, the person falling heavily into the naysayer category is the one who hasn’t been given all the information.
Clearing the path for a better understanding of your proposal, your intended actions, or your idea is to listen (really listen) to the naysayer’s objections. Because you listened, you may realize there is something the naysayer is missing, a piece of the puzzle they don’t have. Give them further information.
Don’t rush in with the idea of changing their mind. Do go forward with the idea of allowing them to identify upcoming challenges. At that point, it is perfectly acceptable to ask them to join you on the journey helping to solve problems before things go awry. In other words, recruit them to be integral to a well-balanced team. Some naysayers can become valuable allies who lead the charge for – rather than against what you’re trying to accomplish.
Reflection: Did a naysaying incident in your life come to mind as you read this information? Which type of naysaying was going on? How did you respond? How will you respond in the future?
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Clients and customers
Employees and subcontractors
Vendors and service providers
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