I see two (or well, three, if getting a new job counts ;-) ) possible ways to deal with such situations in general:
- When you receive a refusal like above: ask for clarification or more explanation, open a discussion to understand the other party's view and to come to a common agreement based on facts instead of feelings.
- To avoid receiving refusals: make sure you fully understand the problem and see all possible solutions, then present your opinion in a more cooperative, softer way.
To deal with refusal
You told your client "we have to do so-and-so" and got refused. As you are most likely well aware, it is quite difficult to move forward from such a direct conflict. You may try to navigate back towards an open-ended constructive discussion, as well as increase your own awareness of the situation, the other party and the available options.
Ask the client in order to understand why (s)he thinks your solution is unacceptable, and what would be an acceptable solution (and why). You may use questions like
- "Could you explain what makes you think this is unacceptable?"
- "Is there any information you are aware of (but I may not be) which makes this suggestion unacceptable for you?"
- "Is there a way to improve my original suggestion which solves your concern?"
- "Is there a better alternative?"
- "Why do you see X as a better solution than my original proposal?"
What is crucial at this stage is to stay very calm and professional, to avoid making this a personal confrontation ("you dare to refuse my idea, so I will show you who is the boss by crushing whatever alternatives you offer!"). Keep focusing on the technical aspects, pros and cons of each proposal. Try to forecast the consequences, benefits and risks of each option. Get a realistic, fact based evaluation agreed upon by both parties. E.g. to your boss's reply above you may propose collecting some Google stats to determine which is the most used term, or look up Wikipedia to clarify the commonly agreed meaning / usage of the terms in question.
All this does not guarantee success, but may give you a chance (depending on the personalities involved, past conflict history, office politics etc.)
To prevent refusal
As I noted above, once you get a straight refusal to your proposal, it is very difficult to navigate out of it and get to an agreement without one of the parties losing face. So to give yourself better chances for success, it is recommended to present your suggestions in a way to avoid straight refusal if at all possible.
I see basically two ways to help this: first of all, make sure you actually understand the problem to be solved. The refusal may be the result of your proposed solution being inappropriate due to some factor you are unaware of. So have a discussion with the client to ensure you are aware of all important information prior to making your proposal. And also try to think with your client's head: e.g. you may be a technical guy, whereas (s)he is a businessperson, seeing the same facts in a totally different light. Presenting a technically sound solution which does not take into account the needs of the business is surely not going to work. So make sure you understand what's important for her, what's her actual problem and what kind of solution would be acceptable for her.
The other important factor is how you present your solution. If you say "we want to do this and this", you basically offer an "accept or refuse" choice, which obviously increases the risk of refusal. (And even if the client accepts, she may not be fully satisfied with it, may be just too timid to voice her concerns, but these concerns may surface in the long run in much more unpleasant ways...) So it is better to present your suggestion in an open-ended manner:
- "Based on my understanding of the problem, we have the following options: A, B and C. Of these, I think B has very high costs as it requires setting up a new server. And I think C is quite risky because it allows unauthenticated users to access our services. So I think A is the best option overall."
Even if you really only see one possible solution (which is rarely the case), you can present it in a softer way:
- "After evaluating our options, I think the only feasible solution is A."
This is better than saying "We have to do A" because it is easier for your partner to ask for clarification, suggest alternatives or point out problems without openly confronting you.