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Handling Objections

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Author: Dave Osh


It was a long meeting, much longer than the allotted time. The discussion evolved into confrontation. We ended up on a dead-end incapable of making a decision.

It started after presenting a proposal that received strong objections. I exhausted every possible justification in an effort to convince the team to support the proposal. More pushing was met with more resistance. We ended the debate with a decision to come back to it later. In other words… procrastination.

We face these situations day in and day out. Don't we? It is an art more than a science to win a confrontation. Right?

Wrong.

The problem is not about the "art". Trying to "win" doesn't work. Mutual resolution is important even if the resolution does not fit our game plan. Easier said than done.

Confrontations happen and unexpected objections occur. Can we avoid these kinds of obstacles? No. Expect them.

"Be Prepared".

That's the motto of the Boy and Girl Scouts.

"Be prepared for what?" Someone once asked Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts.

"Be prepared for anything" was his reply.

No wonder that kids who are scouts become good leaders. They are prepared.

I was not prepared for objections. However, when no alternative solutions were presented, the manipulations started. At this junction we can easily start manipulating rather than persuading. After all, we want to "win". We can easily drift into dictating our way to make a decision, which will probably result in lousy execution, rather than working our way to a meaningful win-win outcome.

Commanding or dictating our way toward a resolution may work in few situations (for example, time limited crisis or military battle). A military officer commanding on the battle field will eventually mix his decision making process with consensus management in the war room when he will become a General.

This is Situational Leadership.

Situational Leadership was developed by Paul Hersey, professor and author of the book Situational Leader, and Ken Blanchard, leadership guru and author of The One Minute Manager.

The fundamental underpinning of Situational Leadership is that there is no "best" style of leadership. Effective leadership is task-relevant. The most successful leaders are those that adapt their leadership style to the majority of the group they lead (or influence) and to the task that needs to be accomplished.

Decision "commanding" does not work in the boardroom. We have to make our way to the hearts of the people we want to influence, aligning our persuasion methods to the situation. It is beyond what people say. It is about how people feel. For example, someone may object to a proposal because they are a "do it right" person (regardless of the circumstances) while the proposer is a "do it now" person who needs a solution quickly even if it is not 100% right. Confrontation guaranteed.

We have to look for the underwater currents to avoid drifting in unwanted directions. Thorough preparation is needed. So is commitment to learn the various personalities of the people we work with and determination to develop a relationship.

We grow into leadership by developing our persuasion skills. Persuasion instead of dictation makes things happen.

About the author: Original article by Dave Osh who is a forward thinking leader who has steered his way to the corporate pinnacle. His Thought Leadership blog is a wealth of stories, ideas, experiences, values, traits and skills which every manager who seeks a breakthrough towards international enterprise leadership needs.


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