Career Masterclass: Convert sceptics

Encountering resistance to your ideas? Here's how to win people round.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Let them rant. Not only will they be more willing to listen when it's your turn but you'll uncover their true priorities. Once they've finished, you'll be ready with a tailored sell: 'the restructure will increase role flexibility and free up money for automating admin.'

Use your allies. Mention how many high-profile, popular or previously sceptical people are already on board. A widely accepted proposal is much harder to reject.

Flatter them. 'It's such a shame you aren't keen on diversifying our product portfolio. I was counting on your creativity and your strong client relationships when we take it to market.' Who would want to be a sceptic when they can be a saviour?

Collaborate. We're more likely to agree to something if we feel we've come to the decision ourselves. Present your proposal as a first draft to work on together and ask questions to guide others to your conclusions. Limit discussion to areas where you can adapt without endangering your vision. Have unquestionable passion. If you don't believe, why should anyone else?

Inspire. Paint a vivid, personal picture of the future they could enjoy if they came on board, and point out the potential pitfalls if they don't. Rational persuasion may convert a sceptic for a week but win his heart and he'll commit for good.

Make it easy. Break your argument into bite-size chunks and let people follow at their own pace. Most sceptics would rather reject an idea outright than admit confusion.

Treat sceptics with respect. Not love or hate. You're confident enough to allow dissent in the ranks but have something in reserve for those who do come on board.

Take a back seat. It could be you who is the problem. Put your ego aside in favour of someone who gets on better with the sceptics. He may be less passionate, but he'll convert more people.

The Mind Gym: Relationships is published by Little, Brown at £12.99

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