Select Page

How to deal with naysayers

In the previous article I looked at the processes of aligning innovation goals with the organisation’s strategy.  The rationale behind this is that if an organisation can incorporate innovation goals into the strategic plan, it will become something that is monitored and measured.  I planned to discuss innovation maturity in this article, but I decided to skip it for this week and address another issue that has been bugging me for a while now – people who always see the negative side of things, and who are not open to any new ideas or a change in the status quo, an innovator’s worst nightmare.  They are known by many names: disbelievers, pessimists, cynics, sceptics, people who see the glass half empty, and my favourite term for them: Naysayers, and every organisation has them.

I had a specific incident last week, that led to the inspiration for this topic.  It was with a project that has been on the radar for a while, quite an important one actually, that has been the responsibility for a specific individual, in project management terms: the project sponsor.  Since the inception of the project it was always someone else’s fault that things did not happen, or that there was no progress made.  Instead of solving the problems and issues that occurred, and making plans to overcome obstacles – and every project will have complications, guaranteed – this person always chose the option of shifting the responsibility to someone else.  And then it struck me, although this person is not explicitly saying “No”, through his actions he is a naysayer, because he does not believe that the project will work.  I then imagined how wonderful it would be to always work with people who are positive, energised, motivated and who solve problems instead of passing the buck to someone else, and then it struck me: in reality there will always be naysayers, and hence the motivation for this article (ok, and to release some pressure regarding this specific situation as well).
You just came up with the idea of a lifetime. You go to execute and WHAM! a rush of negativity comes up and slaps you in the face. Where did it come from? It might have been your boss, employee or colleague. Regardless of the source, you need to get the wind back in your sails and overcome their objections. But how do you do it?  After doing some reading on the topic, I found some good advice, and I would like to share some of the actions you can take when a naysayer threatens the livelihood of your great idea, adapted from an article by Kevin Daum: 1. Redirect them.  Politely point out that you are not looking for their input and suggest they spend their time focused on improving their own situation. 2. Give them credence.  Just because naysayers raise objections regularly doesn’t mean their objections are invalid. Give them credit for helping you identify potential flaws and risk factors in your plans. 3. Answer their objections. Do your homework and make a point of showing them facts (not opinions) that strongly support your approach. Calmly and methodically make your case. The more you demonstrate objectively that they are in error, the sooner they will back off out of embarrassment. 4. Recruit them.  Tell your naysayer you appreciate that he or she cared enough to identify upcoming challenges.  Be smart and ask if he or she will join you on this journey and help solve problems before they disrupt the process. In the worst case, your naysayer will back off and, in the best case, you’ll have the help of a valuable ally. 5. Eliminate them. If these people are constantly bringing you down, by all means stop hanging out with them. Take control of your environment and spend your time where people are supportive and encouraging.

Next Time
Now, after I have had my say about naysayers, next time I will discuss the matter of determining an organisation’s innovation maturity, an important first step before setting innovation goals. I conclude with a quote from Robert Collier: “There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. That little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative”.

Daum, K. 2013.  5 Ways to overcome the naysayers. Online:

About The Author

Following reverse listing, public can now acquire shareholding in Paratus Namibia


20 February 2020, Windhoek, Namibia: Paratus Namibia Holdings (PNH) was founded as Nimbus Infrastructure Limited (“Nimbus”), Namibia’s first Capital Pool Company listed on the Namibian Stock Exchange (“NSX”).

Although targeting an initial capital raising of N$300 million, Nimbus nonetheless managed to secure funding to the value of N$98 million through its CPC listing. With a mandate to invest in ICT infrastructure in sub-Sahara Africa, it concluded management agreements with financial partner Cirrus and technology partner, Paratus Telecommunications (Pty) Ltd (“Paratus Namibia”).

Paratus Namibia Managing Director, Andrew Hall

Its first investment was placed in Paratus Namibia, a fully licensed communications operator in Namibia under regulation of the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN). Nimbus has since been able to increase its capital asset base to close to N$500 million over the past two years.

In order to streamline further investment and to avoid duplicating potential ICT projects in the market between Nimbus and Paratus Namibia, it was decided to consolidate the operations.

Publishing various circulars to shareholders, Nimbus took up a 100% shareholding stake in Paratus Namibia in 2019 and proceeded to apply to have its name changed to Paratus Namibia Holdings with a consolidated board structure to ensure streamlined operations between the capital holdings and the operational arm of the business.

This transaction was approved by the Competitions Commission as well as CRAN, following all the relevant regulatory approvals as well as the necessary requirements in terms of corporate governance structures.

Paratus Namibia has evolved as a fully comprehensive communications operator in Namibia and operates as the head office of the Paratus Group in Africa. Paratus has established a pan-African footprint with operations in six African countries, being: Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

The group has achieved many successes over the years of which more recently includes the building of the Trans-Kalahari Fibre (TKF) project, which connects from the West Africa Cable System (WACS) eastward through Namibia to Botswana and onward to Johannesburg. The TKF also extends northward through Zambia to connect to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, which made Paratus the first operator to connect the west and east coast of Africa under one Autonomous System Number (ASN).

This means that Paratus is now “exporting” internet capacity to landlocked countries such as Zambia, Botswana, the DRC with more countries to be targeted, and through its extensive African network, Paratus is well-positioned to expand the network even further into emerging ICT territories.

PNH as a fully-listed entity on the NSX, is therefore now the 100% shareholder of Paratus Namibia thereby becoming a public company. PNH is ready to invest in the future of the ICT environment in Namibia. The public is therefore invited and welcome to acquire shares in Paratus Namibia Holdings by speaking to a local stockbroker registered with the NSX. The future is bright, and the opportunities are endless.