How Do Persuasive People Respond To Opposition? Part 1
Following up on a previous post about dealing with opposition, this post offers some potentially persuasive choices you may consider making.
It’s not personal
Let’s face it. Life is hard and some people do not know how to ask for help. Some don’t know how receive it when offered. All that is left to them is to share their difficulty and discouragement by dumping it on others. But it isn’t personal, ever, and as you build your character and inner strength and resolve, you discover that these people have no control over you. I recall a person who I worked for years ago who was so incredibly negative and angry, who said the meanest, most accusatory things imaginable. I decided to treat this negativity as a hot wind, and to weather it. I made a game of it, quietly telling myself the opposite of whatever awful thing he said about me. After awhile, I looked forward to that blast of wind, because of how much it got me to affirm myself, my life, and my efforts to influence things for the better. He would walk away angry, and I would walk away elated.
You can take a break
Like the song says, you’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em. Sometimes, you call time out, recoup your losses, regroup and regain control. Some conversations are better as a private interaction than a spectator sport.
Include others in the discussion
If you are unable to bring a determined opponent around to your side, then go around them by bringing others in who may have influence in the situation.
“Maybe I’m the only one here who finds this distracting. How about the rest of you?” Then be quiet and wait. Or go around the room. Someone will respond. And chances are, they will express agreement with you about the difficult behavior. “Apparently, I’m not the only one here having a problem with this. Let’s talk about this after the program. Moving on.” Remember, you don’t need the buy in of every person in order to move forward.
Try the tactful interruption
There are two ways to use the tactful interruption. Repeat his name or gender over and over and over again until you have his attention. Say “Sir. Sir. Sir,“ until he says “What?” Then, firmly but not aggressively, offer to let him have the last word, only at the time and place of your choosing. You say “Thank you for your feedback. You can either stay and talk with me on the break, or, if you find no value in being here, you are welcome to leave, and we’ll happily refund your money. It’s your choice. I want to do the right thing for everyone here. Moving on.
In some situations, your opposition is driven by deep-seated emotions that have nothing to do with you. When that’s the case, chances are that you are not alone in dealing with it, as he makes trouble for everyone else too. Maybe he needs medication, maybe he needs therapy, or maybe he needs medication and therapy. Since his behavior is about his needs rather than your proposition, your actions should be designed to minimize his disruptive behavior. You can use the tactful interruption, “Joe, Joe, Joe,” until he says, “What?” and then pick right back up where you left off as if the interruption never occurred.
That’s what I do. And sometimes I leave off when I’ve said enough. Like now. I’ll have more to say about this subject next time. Hope you’re enjoying these posts. Your comments are always welcome.
Rick is a best selling author and the founder of the Art of Change Skills for Life. His book titles include, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to bring out the best in people at their worst, Life by Design and Influence and the Art of Persuasion. These days he is spending quality time away from the spotlight enjoying the company of his wife and practicing his electric guitar.