Have you ever had someone present an idea and be insistent on you approving it; they take every opportunity (or perceived opportunity) to pitch, present, push their idea forward.

Initially, maybe you gently pushed back by saying something like, “Leave it with me.” or “Let’s look at it once X is finished.”

But the person keeps persisting … 

So you say no with more conviction.

You’ve said “no”, you believe you’ve been clear and still the persistence prevails.

Years ago, I was, to a slightly lesser degree, this person and recently this has come up in a leadership workshop and in executive coaching.

Lyndal, my old boss who kindly persevered with a young, keen and green me, took the time to hear me out, challenged me to present a more considered pitch; heard my second pitch, thanked me for being thorough and then clearly explained why my idea was not approved.

Did I like it, no! But what stopped me for continuing to boldly pushing was the effort and attention Lyndal gave me. She didn’t simply humour me, she listened, showed me I was valued, was present. She also acknowledged how much the idea meant to me. I felt heard and understood.

To say no and maintain the relationship with a ‘persistent pitcher pusher’, here a 5 tips:

  1. Be present: As a leader, your people are your top priority so dropping all other work and being fully present will help the person feel they have been fully heard.
  2. Listen and recall their words and emotions: like Lyndal did with me, listen and recall how the person is expressing their idea and how they feel about the value of the their idea. For example, “I can see how important X is to you, you say it will achieve Y, and that you feel strongly about this.”
  3. Respectfully challenge and ask questions: through engaging and being present you can ask questions to help the person to think more thoroughly about their idea. They may come to the realisation, in this conversion, that they idea lacks merit.
  4. Encourage through options: Ask the person to come back to you with a thorough project proposal which includes options that would merit consideration. Often these ideas are going to improve the individual’s situation so you may consider asking them to also consider the value of their idea to work processes, the team, the bottom line, customers / stakeholders, and the business.
  5. Explain the why: Take time to explain why you have to decline the idea proposal. It’s frustrating to hear no and not understand why, so be clear and share why you are saying no.


Of course, if they still persist on their idea being granted, the focus of the conversation needs to shift from the idea to the persistent pitching. You could ask, in your own style and words, “What more do I need to share with you so that you are clear this idea/proposal has not been approved and you will refrain from bringing it up again?”


What other tips can you share to handle the persistent pitcher?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

I appreciate you