At the workplace, managing objections and responding to challenging and even aggressive questions is a crucial communication skill that we should all strive to enhance. At NxtGEN, we believe these skills might be the most vital for success in any role. Regardless of your position, you’ll inevitably encounter situations where you must adopt a professional negotiator’s approach.
To excel in the workplace, it is crucial to possess the communication skills to manage objections and address challenging and sometimes contentious questions. According to iSpeak the Q&A time of any presentation can make or break the speaker’s credibility. Therefore, preparation ahead, that is, listing out and rehearsing potential questions and responses, helps you keep calm and demonstrate your trustworthiness.
These time-tested techniques will help you navigate through the most challenging situations.
Disarm the attacker
Your aim in responding to aggressive questions is to disarm the person by posing another question to uncover the true intention behind their challenge. Once you unveil the underlying reason behind the question, you can address it with your response.
When viewed through this lens, difficult questions no longer appear hostile or antagonistic; as a result, our communication becomes more efficient.
Keep your cool
Maintaining a composed mindset before reacting is vital to managing any confrontation. This can be easier said than done, as high emotions impair our cognitive abilities. Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist and author of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” suggests that when emotions take over, our responses are governed by the fast-thinking mind system responsible for automated tasks and emotional reactions. Rather than resorting to this pattern, we should deliberately slow down our thought processes to deal with complex issues and challenging responses more effectively.
Let your words sink in
Pausing is one of the most effective yet underused tools in objection handling and negotiations. An effective silence not only gives your counterpart a chance to think and settle themselves, but it also amplifies the impact of the last thing you said. Consider trying it next time; it can be tremendously encouraging and a great way to signal to the other person that you are ready to listen. When should you pause? The best thing to do is to replace your “buts” with silence.
Watch your attitude
Your attitude can significantly impact any communication. Rather than immediately engaging in arguments or taking a defensive stance, demonstrate empathy towards your counterpart. When emotions are heightened during a heated debate, it becomes challenging to have a productive discussion. To manage such events, the initial step should involve defusing any anxiety or resentment to allow both parties to concentrate on finding a solution.
We suggest the following approach to defuse tension:
Empathise, Transition, and Respond
Empathy can be demonstrated by careful listening and a sincere desire to appreciate what your counterpart is experiencing. You will empathise by using statements with positive bridges, such as “because” to help appreciate the other side’s viewpoint:
- “I understand your thought process BECAUSE …”
- “I hear what you’re saying BECAUSE…”
You will mindfully transition to a response by adding “and”:
- “I can appreciate why you think that BECAUSE… AND…”
- “I can appreciate why you think that BECAUSE… (PAUSE)”
You may then respond with further questions for a deeper understanding of the situation, for instance:
- “Can you tell me specifically what’s concerning you?”.
Alternatively, start by explaining the bigger picture:
- “I can show you…why we made that decision / how our solution can support you…”
Objection handling comes in handy in the everyday corporate world, and, as with any skill, it can be learnt and honed. With effort and practice, everybody can learn how to get the business outcomes they’re aiming for. If you plan to succeed in your field, be prepared to push back.
Get in touch
Few life skills will contribute to your success as much as being able to stand up and speak in front of an audience! So, if you need to establish and develop your team’s skills to handle objections, we are here to help.
We offer a wide range of corporate communication skills training programmes. If you need to improve your presentation and objection-handling skills, it’s time to get in touch today and learn how to increase your influence and win more deals.