Like any enlightened leader, you encourage feedback from employees. You don’t want them to accept your directives blindly; instead, you prefer that they ask challenging questions and express well-intentioned objections.
Just make sure to handle their objections with care. Your first thought should be, “This is a good sign. It means people are interested and thinking about the best outcome.”
Follow these techniques after you hear objections:
Keep listening. It’s often tempting to interrupt when someone challenges your message. But it’s better to resist the urge to jump in.
Let the speaker finish. This shows the speaker that you welcome the objection and you intend to listen fully before you reply.
Dig for more. To reinforce your eagerness to debate the issue, ask follow-up questions such as, “Can you elaborate on that point?” or “What other options would you suggest?” Prodding speakers to discuss their objections and propose their own solutions dignifies their role. It also buys time for you to weigh the best response.
Give a little. Praise the employee for voicing a fair-minded objection. Say, “I think you may be onto something” and explore the pros and cons of alternative action.
You put staffers at ease by avoiding defensiveness. You’re also in a better position to exert influence by complementing their point and dissecting the issue more rigorously.
— Adapted from Maximum Influence, Kurt Mortensen, AMACOM.