What To Do With Objections In the Art Of Persuasion?
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?
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.