We have all been in a meeting that has quickly degenerated down to one or two people taking control in a negative way and pretty soon you have no solution, just lots of complaining.
So how you do STOP naysayers from taking control in your meetings?
Unfortunately naysayers are given control mainly because leaders get confused over how to get every person involved in the discussion. Because leaders want people to have a voice in the discussion so they own the solution they often give up the WRONG part of the discussion to the group which leads to blame, finger point or discussions about why something won’t work. These are all negative spirals that will actually rip the group apart rather than have them take ownership.
Three reasons Naysayers feel compelled to speak up:
1. They don’t like change. So if you are asking for a new system or process you are literally disrupting their world and they will fight to keep it as is.
2. They feel competent, even powerful in their present state. Part of the power they often get from the group is their ability to keep things status quo. They can often see your new ideas as threats to their existence.
3. Desire to be a part of things. Yes, many Naysayers have great hearts and just want to be a part of things. What you need to remember is that if their brain is designed to protect themselves that means they only way they can join in typically is to point out the flaws or why the change shouldn’t happen. So your job is to allow them a graceful way in.
How to Get a Pro-active Discussion Instead.
1. If the change is necessary, state for the group why it is necessary and that you aren’t their to “debate” the merits of the change but rather HOW to best do the change. Then keep the discussion on how to do the change.
2. Make some of the Naysayers play the “Devil’s Advocate”. This means that if someone says something can’t be done, you have someone else counter with why or how it can be done. This keeps them involved in the discussion but in a proactive way.
3. When conversations derail bring the group back to the original GOAL so you keep discussions off the negative.
4. Manage the brain energy of the room. People will move their thinking naturally to the area that feels the most comfortable for them. This means with change, the most comfortable is to protect the way things are. Your job is to make them comfortable being uncomfortable. Let them know you realize change can be exhilarating for some and scary for others but that ignoring it or staying as is is not an option. Then draw them back in to discussion about how to make it happen.
5. Address any negative comments right up front– don’t let them slide. Each time you let someone say something under their breath you are VALIDATING their comment with your silence.