How to Cuddle Up with “No” and Win With Doom and Gloomers
Dreamers swim in an ocean filled with doom and gloomers who love pointing out danger.
Dreamers start with “Yes”. Everyone else seems like a kill-joy.
Dreamers see resistance when others don’t fall in love with their ideas.
Doom and gloomers seem resistant to optimistic dreamers.
Cuddle up with “No”
“No” comforts doom and gloomers. They won’t get in over their heads. They’re protecting current wins. They need a clear path to the end, before they begin. (All good stuff.)
Don’t offer flippant answers.
The worst thing you can do is minimize real concerns.
You can’t win hearts and minds by pressuring reluctant people into conformity.
Bring ideas to doom and gloomers. Listen to concerns. Say, “Thank you. Lets think about that.” Walk away. Don’t offer solutions.
When you flippantly answer the real concerns of doom and gloomers you invite them to dig into their bucket of doom. They’re compelled to convince you that you aren’t seeing reality. Frankly, their concerns may be justified.
When you trivialize the concerns of others, you seem ignorant, out of touch, closed, and stubborn.
Stay open to the possibility that a doom and gloomer is at least 10% right.
7 questions that draw wisdom from doom and gloom:
- Engage doom and gloomers early. Say, “I’m thinking about this new initiative. What comes to mind?”
- What’s behind your concern/reluctance? Listen for things they’re protecting. You may agree.
- How might we test this idea?
- Who might know more about this?
- What happens if we do nothing? This question assumes your idea is a legitimate offer to solve a real problem.
- What might a pilot program look like?
- Can we make this better? “Yes” to this question invites people to find ways to make new ideas work.
Bonus: What’s the next step that doesn’t require a major commitment?
How might dreamers win with doom and gloomers?
Hi Dan, I always enjoy your posts. This is a good one. While I don’t think of myself as a “doom and gloomer”, I did realize early in my management career that my initial reaction to a new idea is all the ways it won’t work. I was cutting my staff off at the knees! A little while into this position, I realized that the best thing I could do was to say nothing until my brain made it through the first round of all the ways it won’t work or couldn’t be done. Then, the next step was to ask a question. Learning to make that question truly open-ended and not leading or asking for justification took awhile. I did learn that this approach slowed the “dreamers” enough to get them to a truly great and workable solution. My knee-jerk “no” wasn’t necessary anymore!
Thanks Susan, The expression “doom and gloomer” is a bit tongue in cheek. However, most of us understand the initial “NO” when new ideas are suggested.
I’m a dreamer and I do it, unless it’s my idea. 🙂
Your observation that a good question can slow dreamers down without cutting them off at the knees is brilliant.
It’s better to fuel a fire than pour water on people.
The optimist believes they can get in the ring with absolutely anybody and win. The doom and gloomer only gets into a fight when they have some actual evidence they can win.