Parrying the Difficult Thrusts 83 The Naysayer The naysayer is the person who always finds what's wrong with an idea, or always has reasons why something won't work. Rarely does he or she provide better ideas, but is more comfortable reacting and shooting down the ideas and enthusiasm of others. Before we talk about how to handle such people, let's not assume that such folks are totally useless. They can serve as the canary in the coal mine, helping others to step back and think about possible flaws or problems rather than jump into the group agreement mentality. So, we don't necessarily want to shut these people up completely, but we do want them to become more constructive. OK, first the reality check principle. Is your naysayer a problem? What are the consequences of doing nothing? Still feel you need to do something? OK. The best way to handle naysayers is, once again, to return responsibility to them. What you want to do is get this message across: "It's OK to point out flaws in ideas, but if you do, it is expected that you will have an alternative, and yes, I'm going to ask." So, if Jean says: "That's never going to work," or "Heck, we tried that years ago, and it failed mis- erably." Here's a response: "Well, Jean, if you feel it isn't going to work, can you suggest a better option?" Or if you want to open up a general dialogue, you can say: "Can anyone recall what happened when we tried this last time?"