Dear Dan: How Much Time Should I Spend Convincing Naysayers

Dear Dan,

We have lots of great people in our organization, but there are a few vocal naysayers. The negative people don’t seem to like anything.

We want to make change, but a few negative people constantly complain and point out problems.

Should we spend time convincing negative people to get on board or move forward with the people who are eager to make change?


Eager for change

Dear Eager,

The short answer to your question is go with positive people. Don’t spend much time trying to win with habitually negative people.

Three kinds of negative people.

Persistent dark clouds:

Be kind and polite to habitual-dark-cloud-people, but don’t spend much energy trying to turn them bright. It drains everyone. (I’m assuming you can’t remove these soul-suckers.)

Negative people take organizations in dark directions.

Organizations reflect their leaders. You unintentionally give leadership to Dark Clouds when you spend most of your energy trying to turn them bright.

Positive energy scares Dark Clouds. Enthusiasm makes them skeptical. Don’t try to win them over with positive energy. If anything, explore how your vision aligns with their values and strengths.

Doer dark clouds:

Some people love every new idea that comes down the pike. They’re the dreamers on your team. They don’t need convincing. They need direction. Dreamers are great starters.

Doers, on the other hand, love to finish things. They seem like foot-draggers to dreamers, but they need to see the path to victory before they commit.

A team of committed doers goes further than a team of dreamers.

Spend energy and time with Doer-Dark-Clouds. Ask them about the path forward. Explore their reluctance. Help them get comfortable committing.

You can’t stop a committed doer.

(If you’d like more information on Doers and Dreamers, there’s a search window in the navigation pane on the right. Just type in Doer and you’ll see several articles.)

Fearful dark clouds:

Fearful people seem adversarial.

  1. Be kind.
  2. Answer concerns.
  3. Give support. The people around us help us find courage.
  4. Expect progress.
  5. Don’t be seduced by the fearful.

In the end, there’s little difference between the habitually fearful and a persistent naysayer. Perhaps one difference is the seductive danger of a sincere fearful person. They give the appearance of wanting to help. But if you aren’t careful, fear has the same effect as active resistance.


You probably have concerns about Habitual Dark Cloud People sabotaging, backstabbing, and undermining your efforts. They already are.

Don’t lose sleep over Dark Clouds. Go with the true believers. Lose sleep figuring out how to fuel positive people and answer the concerns of Doers.

A small team of true believers can change the world.

Warning: Bad is louder than good. One negative voice outweighs many positive voices. If you aren’t careful, you end up pouring energy into Dark Clouds, but getting nowhere.

Tip: Sometimes I recommend putting all the Dark Clouds on the same team. Give them a project. Maybe they’ll surprise you.

Thank you for your question. I feel your passion. It’s my hope that you channel your energy into people who will make a positive difference.

You have my best,


What types of Dark Cloud People do you see in organizations?

How might leaders spend more time fueling positive people and waste less time with Persistent Dark Clouds?

*I relax my 300 word limit on weekends.