What to Do When You Don’t Get What You Want

You’re at the end of an influence conversation during which you’ve pitched an idea or proposal to a decision maker above you. Things seemed to be going your way, but now, at the end of the conversation, it’s clear that you’re not getting the green light.

Influence skills

You’d like to finish the meeting on a high note, and keep the door open for the future. Here’s what to do.

1. When the discussion ends with the possibility of a next meeting… wrap it up tightly with a statement about next steps.

  • “It sounds like what we need to do is come back to you with a new proposal that includes how we’d manage the three main issues that were brought up today.” (Briefly name the issues.)
  • “Although we didn’t get the green light today, what I heard you say is that when we’ve got ABC in place, come back and pitch again.”

2. When you get a yes on one or two items but a no on everything else… restate the entire decision, outlining what you got a yes on and what you got the no on. Also mention what the next steps are for the yes, and what the follow-up is, if any, for the no item/s.

3. When the decision is an outright no… There are questions you can ask that may get you the answer to why you didn’t get what you were asking for. While not every audience will be receptive to these questions, some will. Insert your own wording for the following suggestions, or use them as they’re written:

  • “What would have caused you to say yes?”
  • “What could I (we) have done differently to change your mind?”
  • “What would I (we) need to do next time in order for you to give us the go-ahead?”

If the answers have to do with what the decision maker didn’t like about you, your presentation, or the proposal itself, just take the feedback. Although you may be inclined to defend yourself, your presentation, or your proposal, defensive behavior will only cast you negatively (or more negatively). This could possibly eliminate your opportunity to come back when you’ve got a proposal or presentation that’s more in line with the decision maker’s business agenda.

What Not to Do

In addition to not reacting defensively, there are a few other don’t‘s. Don’t continue trying to force the decision maker to see how right your way is. Don’t show your frustration because the decision maker didn’t see things your way. And don’t keep piling on new reasons, or repeating the reasons you’ve already stated, hoping that the decision maker will finally see the light.

Instead, follow the advice above and keep the door open for future influence discussions.

Question: Do you have any tips to share? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Mindy w.m. Chung

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