Note from Diane: Amy’s analogies and metaphors related to our work in grant seeking and nonprofit work as a whole always make me smile. Today’s post is no different!
My family recently went out for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, it’s a favorite because, miraculously, everyone in our family can find something they really like on the menu. So when the waiter arrived with our meals I was somewhat dismayed when a favorite dish of mine was placed before me and everyone at the table groaned. It doesn’t have an unpleasant smell or look, it doesn’t take up a lot of room on the table, it’s just something that no one else in my family likes to eat…..pizza with brussels sprouts on it. It reminded me of a situation I was in with a client recently where I was in a staff meeting facilitating a conversation about grant writing and one person in particular countered any brainstorming idea with a “we can’t do that” or “it won’t work because…” statement. A naysayer at a brainstorming meeting can have a lasting, negative effect on the health of an organization. I’ve heard this called “yucking someone else’s yum” and it applies to the dinner table as well as to the conference table. So, how do you counter this type of attitude, here are 7 ways to deal with a naysayer in your midst.
7 Ways to Deal with a Naysayer
1. Here’s a great website from Global Giving with a number of useful activities to help frame a productive brainstorming session.
2. Facilitator Tool Kit: A Guide for Helping Groups Get Results-This comprehensive guide provides staff with a variety of activities and ideas to get groups from brainstorming to a completed project. It also has a section on how to work with difficult attitudes.
3. Sometimes it’s helpful to do an asset building activity like this one shared on Nonprofit Pro to help offset negativity. Take some time to find out what each staff member brings to a project, highlight their talents and make everyone feel secure that they bring something important to the project.
4. Washington Nonprofits put together a great publication, SPiN: Strategic Planning in Nonprofits Group Exercises to Liven Up Planning which outlines some tried and true activities to help a group to plan, form consensus and develop an action plan for projects:
Here are some less traditional, self-care ways for you to address a naysayer:
5. Mindfulness is a great way to relieve stress and refocus your thoughts. There are some great free apps out there that can help you learn how to practice mindfulness including the 12 shared here on Mindful.org.
6. This next suggestion should be done in the privacy of your own office and probably with headphones along with suggestion 7. Sometimes, it’s good to just have a good laugh at how absurd negative behavior can influence others – this YouTube video is a great one to use.
7. When all else fails, dark chocolate is a completely acceptable way to combat If you need research to support your choice, here’s an oft cited article outlining the health benefits of dark chocolate.
So whether it’s brainstorming, chocolate, mindfulness, or Debbie Downer, don’t let the naysayers get you down; just try a different approach. And never ever, let them yuck your brussels sprout pizza.