How Leaders Use Negative Feedback To Improve And Then Persuade The Pyrrhonists

Rowan Blair Colver
3 min readMay 16, 2022
Lucid Leadership by Rowan B. Colver

Leaders Listen To Objections

If a leader wants to stand a chance of pulling a team together or gaining someone’s investment of time or money in their project they need to be able to reach beyond objections. We might naturally feel obliged to pull back and move on at the first sign of friction someone shows. However, unless they’re walking away from you they are inviting further conversation. We need to work with their objections to guide the direction of the exchange. The words they use and the gestures that accompany them, the types of concerns they have in any given area, and the level of importance they ascribe to them all tell a story of how we can frame the information we want to give them and in particular, what information we need to pass on. Listing all the features of our product or idea is likely to bore people so if we can be given pointers as to what they care about, we know what to prioritise.

Gain Further Insight

If we can make the objections the subject of a conversation we can learn a great deal about the customer’s perception of our service. Let them talk about all of their concerns and repeat them back to them with interest, make notes if you like, it’s a good idea to let them feel safe to explain everything as they see it. Reflect the words back and make gestures to show you’re interested in their continuing. It might be absolutely clear to you that everything they are saying can be remedied immediately with a bit of education about what you do or a verbal guarantee their concerns are nothing to worry about. You never know what they’re thinking until you ask. There might be occasions where the concerns offered are genuine and because of individual circumstances, the service has room for improvement.

Redefine The Issues Into Work

There will be jobs you can do or ask other people to do that prevent someone’s concern from being realistic. Perhaps a simple bit of paperwork will satisfy their concerns or an extra layer of service that can be easily provided will settle their concerns. Breaking down an individual’s concerns into manageable parts that can be resolved will help leaders to build on objections and change someone’s mind. Sometimes we can use rhetorical devices like story-telling to show how the same concern was approached by someone else and make verbal assurances that this is all part of the service. Sometimes concerns might be voiced in such a way that can’t be defined precisely, a lot of people have wide-ranging thoughts and then try to articulate them in a few words. We can go back to the genuine interest principle and see if we can identify what they mean. Guide the customer into a conversation that does define their concerns into work that can be done.

When All Else Fails

So you lost that one. That’s OK. Hopefully, you had a long and productive conversation about what they didn’t like. You’ve just been handed a long list of market research for your time. This is valuable material and you can begin using it straight away. Everything they said to you is valid because perception is what governs everybody’s decision making. We want to know what people see even if it’s wrong because unless we know where to stand we won’t find their point of reference. Listening, learning, and leading through people’s concerns will help us to improve our offerings and the way we communicate them. Ultimately, we learn the most about what to do next when what we did before is talked about a lot.



Rowan Blair Colver

Music writer and humanities educator from Sheffield in England. Democracy of philosophy, comments are welcome.