By Dan Cooper on January 23, 2019

The Hecklers Veto in Your Company

Where do you want to go to dinner?

This is a seemingly simple question, yet ask it in a car full of your family and you might as well be trying to negotiate Brexit and ending the government shutdown.

The way this goes in my house is one person throws out and option and then any one person can veto it. Once one person veto’s that restaurant, it’s off the list.

Wait … what is that about? Does one person have the power to decide for the whole house? One person can decide where we don’t go just because they aren’t in the mood?

If that one person is my wife, then yes, one person has all that power  … but that isn’t normally the case. The children believe they have this power. They believe it because we’ve given it to them.

Well, this day forth I will no longer be tied to the Hecklers Veto!

The Hecklers Veto has risen to prominence in today’s uber politically correct world where one person can substantially complain and disrupt a speaker, site, or event making it stop or shut down because they don’t like it or makes them feel uncomfortable.

Silliness. Can you imagine one person just saying they don’t like it, so people just stop?

Except it happens in your company too. You have experienced the heckler’s veto in your exec meetings, your team meetings, your department meetings. That one guy or gal that just poops on an idea, any idea, and kills it just out of simple disagreement. The best part is that they usually don’t have any valid reasoning.

It’s just no. I don’t like it.

The team stops, looks on, no one talks because a negative is in the room. If you speak you feel like you have to defend it. Which you may not be ready to do. Or you are waiting for someone else to disagree, which no one does, and neither do you. So it’s dead on arrival.

Between the lines here’s what the hecklers are saying.

“That sounds like a lot of work.”

“That sounds like it may put my job at risk or hold me accountable.”

“That sounds like I’ll have to work with XYZ person who I don’t want to work with.”

“I just don’t like the person who pitched the idea.”

What do you do?

Easy, ask questions. Start with “why?” Add a good thought word in front of it. “Interesting … Why?”  And ask it until you are satisfied. Most often people aren’t sure why. It was just the easy default and gut shot.

Watch out for the heckler’s veto. As a leader, you can help understand it and make sure good ideas aren’t snuffed out due to one person’s bias.

Now, I have to go figure out where we are going for dinner.

Published by Dan Cooper January 23, 2019