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Turning Naysayers Into Allies: How Successful Leaders Do It

A New Solution: Try a 6 Month Trial Period

When facing a decision they don’t like, most people will simply take their preverbal ball and go home. “If this is the direction we are going, I’m leaving.”

I’ve heard that many times. 

Let me give you a new response.

Rather than escorting them out the door or trying to convince them they are wrong, ask them to give it six months before forming their final opinion.

This is precisely what I did with the volunteers who were frustrated with our volunteer and leadership agreement change.

Specifically, I said,

I understand why you’re skeptical. I may be making the wrong decision. But after plenty of prayer and discussions with our leadership team, we believe this will work and will benefit many people in our church. Here’s what I’d love for you to do, though. Will you be willing to continue volunteering in our church in your role and watch how this goes for me? I need people watching closely to help me evaluate what’s working and what’s not. I need you to be my eyes and ears after this change. But, if you’re still skeptical after six months and believe we did the wrong thing, I’ll understand your leaving. But please don’t leave before we give it some time.

Most people took my challenge to heart and gave it six months.

After six months, nearly every naysayer stayed.

More than that, one of my volunteer pessimists, whose primary concern was about couples living together and serving as greeters with children, was approached by two new volunteer couples (who were living together) three months into their tenure with a request: “Will you and your wife mentor us and consider marrying us?” 

Under our previous agreement, they would never have met the established volunteer who became their marriage mentor.

I know. This story is unique and won’t always happen.

However, what I do know is that most naysayers are afraid of something they think may happen. In most cases, their fears aren’t founded in experience but in the unknown. When we ask them to give it six months, we’re allowing the unknowns to become known. Moreover, we’re asking skeptical people to keep a close eye on the change for us so we can continue leading well.

Give It a Try

There’s no guarantee that everyone will give you six months, and there’s no guarantee that after six months, everyone will agree. But one thing I can promise is that this approach is far superior to showing people the door when they complain or attempting to convince them you are right.

Great leaders aren’t afraid to make hard decisions and allow people to evaluate the ramifications. We need to help people move past their fears of what might happen and focus more on what is actually happening.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.