The first step of convincing is listening

Sari Harrison

Head of Product at Esalen



My VP sends me mail saying that we have to get feature x in this release. I quickly assess that's not going to be possible nor am I sure it's the right thing even if it were.

Actions taken

First, what I didn't do was to say no. Instead, I first acknowledged that yes, that is a feature we need. I then asked him to tell me more about what he was hoping to accomplish by adding feature x right now. He responded that he was hoping to grow usage of one of our products. I agreed (again) that was something that needed to happen. And I asked if he was aware that we had not yet marketed the product to the target customers. I also reminded him that getting a new feature in at this point would be considered very risky by key internal partners. He responded that I was "right" and we should do it later.

Lessons learned

When you think you are being told what to do by a superior and you think it's "wrong", first access your curiosity. Make sure you have shared context about the why. You will only get there by being truly open to hearing what your superior has to say. Saying no isn't going to work, but saying yes isn't the only alternative.

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Sari Harrison

Head of Product at Esalen

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