What To Do With Objections In the Art Of Persuasion?

Ideas. Insight. Inspiration.

What To Do With Objections In the Art Of Persuasion?

April 27, 2009 Dealing with Difficult People Persuasion 7

Today’s post is about dealing with objections when practicing the art of persuasion.  We run into objections at work, at home, and even at family gatherings. You might even say that having objections is a hallmark of human interaction since, well, forever.

Since the dawn of time, the best ideas have been met with doubts and fears.  The year is somewhere between 5000 and 6000 years ago.  Picture a cave in a forest.  Two men, Ugh and Moogh, are having a discussion.  

Ugh recommends a circular shape for transportation.  Moogh doubts that it will work.  Ugh demonstrates a small model (a branch that he rolls down a hill.)  Moogh thinks it was dumb luck.  Ugh is tempted to think Moogh is dumb.  But lucky Ugh, he interprets Moogh’s doubts as interest, thanks him for speaking up, and proceeds to convert Moogh’s objections into persuasion.  And that, boys and girls, is why, to this very day, the wise persuader loves objections whenever they are raised.  

Of course, it could happen that Ugh calls Moogh dumb, and Moogh then gathers an army by raising the call that some idiot named Ugh is trying to upset the applecart (which they don’t even have yet,) and before you know it, Ugh is staring at the business end of several sharp sticks held by fierce opponents with blood in their eye!   YIKES!   What I’m saying here is that your well thought out ideas may, through something you say or do, don’t say or don’t do, either create opposition, or at least bring it to the surface in a most obvious way.   

I used to believe that a lack of objections was a good sign.  I’ve since learned that a lack of objections may be a signpost up ahead that you’ve entered the uncommitted zone.  It turns out that objections are a good thing.   Why good?  Because understood correctly, an objection is a request for more information. The person you seek to persuade may not realize it, but the fact that he’s given you an objection means he has an interest in learning more.  And when someone raises an objection, there is a good chance that she represents others who share that objection but, due to shyness or some other fear, wouldn’t speak up if their lives depended on it. Once an objection is voiced, you have the opportunity to address it and eliminate it. 

The worst possible response to an objection is a defensive drive to stop it, dismiss it, or otherwise destroy without ever finding out what it is and what’s behind it.  So the best initial response to an objection is not “Ugh!” but “Thank you!”  Thanks to an objection, you have a precious opportunity to be persuasive at a more meaningful and motivational level. 

I’d love to hear your comments about objections.  What do you do when people object to something you say or do?

be well,



7 Responses

  1. Chris Witt says:


    As a speaker, I used to have the same reaction to questions. I use to think they meant I hadn’t done a good job. If I had spoken clearly and persuasively enough, people would simply sit there in awe or — better — give me a standing ovation.

    Now I look forward to questions, and I think I’ve given a poor speech if no one asks any.

    I tend not to think in terms of overcoming objections. I try to understand what the person is really asking, what his/her concern, misunderstanding, or disagreement is about. And I take a moment to think before responding. If helps if I remember that I’m trying to serve my audience, not foist something on them.


  2. Joanne says:

    As a trainer I know that those who sit silent, and maybe even nod their heads, very often get less out of the communication than those who ask questions or raise objections. Feedback (good or bad) means their minds are truely engaged and interracting with the topic, and provides opportunity for ongoing dialogue. So like Chris, I look forward to questions and objections, it means I have their interest.

    • @Joanne,
      Thanks for the comment, Joanne. Yes, I’d rather have an interactive experience, where I have a clue about what’s going on, rather than have to speculate feverishly about whether or not people are tracking me.
      Best wishes,

  3. Jennifer Rai says:

    I really needed the reminder that “an objection is a request for more information”. So important to remember in my small business, working with current and potential clients. What a wonderful blog you offer, thank you.

  4. Prince says:

    Its always an opportunity for you to rethink whatever you are proposing. They give people confidence depending on the response after the objection.

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