How to Handle Critics and Criticisms in a Meeting
Many people –even skilled speakers—often fail to get their points across when intensive issues come up during meetings or on-the-site encounters. The main reason behind this is that they have never been taught to get their message across under difficult situations.
Suppose you’ve just been severely criticized, here are ways to help you handle critics and criticisms in a meeting:
Compliment the critic if he has made an important observation. Often just a little praise and recognition disarms critics and changes their attitude toward you.
If the criticism is unjustified, one good way to handle this is to pause, remain silent and say absolutely nothing. Someone in the audience realizing that the question is unfair will often answer for you. Don’t dwell on the point; get on with your presentation.
3. The survey
If an accusation is made in which you feel there is absolutely no way you could answer and win, here’s the best way to handle it. In a calm voice, ask the critic to repeat the statement so you can write it correctly on a chalkboard or whiteboard in front of the room. Then you may hand out small pieces of paper and ask each person in the group to write either “agree” or “disagree.”
Have someone other than your self or your critic collect and tabulate the votes and announce the results. If your points were valid, you’ll find the group will normally agree with you. If the group doesn’t agree, be sure to acknowledge their position and quickly get on your next point.
How to neutralize objections
Never forget—it’s always a critical moment when objections come up. The way you handle them is directly related to your chances of getting your message across. Here are four suggestions:
1. Keep calm.
Always keep calm. Show empathy. Never be resentful. Never raise your voice or attempt to gloss over the objection. None of these things work!
2. Request more information.
Ask your challenger to expand on the objection. If it’s a valid objection, it’s your responsibility to respond. More frequently your challenger, not being as familiar with your point as you are, quickly exhausts his or her position and is unable to push you further.
3. Restate the objection as a question.
Most objections are presented as statements. Regardless of how they are presented, the secret is (1) to restate the objection as a question and (2) to verify whether this is or is not your opponent’s objection. An example follows:
“Your question, Mr. Jones is: ‘How will the newly proposed database system affect the business productivity?’”
The next step is to verify whether this is or not the objection. Simply say “Mr. Jones, is that the question?” If Jones says “yes,” you know exactly what his question is and you can answer it precisely.
Just suppose Jones said “no.” Then say, “Mr. Jones, if that’s not the question…then what is the question?”
Another way to neutralize objections is to draw a large “T” on the board in front of the room. On one side list the advantages of your idea or proposal and on the others side, with the group’s assistance, list the disadvantages. If the points you were presenting had merit, this will be self-evident from the material on the board and you can continue with your presentation immediately.