How to Raise Objections So People Will Listen

We live in an age of text messaging and Twitter, and it has never been easier to raise objections about anything — work, politics, sports — without crafting a compelling case for change.

Anyone can post criticisms online with little to no accountability, which feels great when we’re anonymously shouting at people we don’t like. But you can’t troll your colleagues and co-workers and coerce them to change their minds on important issues while keeping your day job.

Here’s how to raise objections so people will listen.

  • Calmly state the facts. Although we live in a post-truth world, never underestimate the effectiveness of data. It’s still possible to raise objections by appealing to logic. Reasonable people can disagree on feelings but come to a consensus over facts.
  • Use the feel/felt/found strategy. For those moments when facts don’t work, use the tried-and-true sales methodology of feel/felt/found. Use empathy to demonstrate that you understand the problem. Give an example of a time you felt a similar way. Then explain how you arrived at a different conclusion. Feel/felt/found works well when you’re asking someone to step outside a comfort zone and see a new perspective.
  • Provide solutions. To some people objections sound like complaints. Go one step further — and win the hearts and minds of the optimists on your team — by reframing your objections as part of an alternative solution.
  • Ask for advice. Humble people do great things. Before you raise objections, speak to someone who has “been there and done that.” Ask questions about your company’s political landscape. Find out the best and most efficient way to voice your concerns without being too negative.
  • Reframe your point of view. Rather than raise objections, you may want to revise your talking points and turn them into questions. Seek to understand alternative ways of thinking. And take the long view. Even if you’re right and someone else is wrong, at what point does it no longer matter?

It’s tough to raise objections so people will listen, which is why practice makes perfect. The daily micro-conflict we experience in our lives — at the grocery store, at the gas station, with our kids — gives us ample opportunity to prepare for those moments when we need to be most persuasive.

And, remember, you can’t expect to get a fair hearing for your objections if you don’t reciprocate and hear the concerns of others.

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