There comes a time when the group is going one direction and you think it would be best to go another direction. How do you handle that one? You can go with the flow and hope for the best or you can stand up and say what you think would be best. The first is the easier path, and it gives you the chance to say “I knew it wouldn’t work” if things go wrong at a later date. The second choice is much harder, and yet it can be much more rewarding. The key to being effective in this is to be professional in your handling of a dissenting vote. No one really listens seriously to the constant naysayer, however they will listen to the person who can state their opinion clearly and concisely when appropriate.
Here are a few ideas for how to make this work for you:
- Pick your battle carefully. It is important to make sure you are going against the grain when you have solid reasons to believe the chosen path is wrong. Just because it wasn’t your first choice doesn’t make it wrong.
- Have facts. Back your stance up with solid information. If you can cite studies, data or other reliable information that supports your position then you will be much more credible.
- Timing is everything. Make sure you bring up your concerns before the ball is in motion. If you wait until the change has started it may be too late and you will not be well received. Also, speaking up without all the facts can cause you to look like Chicken Little.
- Speak calmly. Presenting your cause with conviction and facts will go a long way to getting your point across. People who rant about why something is wrong make their audience defensive and they will tune out. It’s okay to be passionate about it, just not overly emotional. You want to be taken seriously, not taken as the little kid who didn’t get his way.
- Concede graciously. If after making your case and no change in direction was made, you need to get on board with it. All you can really ask for is to be heard and your thoughts considered. If that was done then support the team decision. Keep any “I told you so” thoughts to yourself if they arise. People really hate poor losers.
When making your case you can use the formula of “Here is what I think, here are the facts supporting it, and this is the benefit of going this way.” If you focus on the positives of your ideas and stay away from attacking the other idea then your ideas will be better received. Attacking someone’s decision will always make them defensive and close their minds to new ideas.
Personally I really respect people who will take a stand against popular opinion. These folks are confident in their convictions and I want to hear what they are thinking. Often this is where some of the best ideas and innovations will come from. So listen carefully to that dissenting voice. It may be the voice of reason.