8 Ways to Gain Workplace Support for Your Great Ideas

ideaDo you know someone who, no matter what the situation, always manages to find the deepest, darkest, or most negative perspective? It probably won’t surprise you to find any number of these, at any age, in the workplace.

As a younger employee, you might come up with new and exciting ideas that are greeted with comments like these:  that’ll never work, it will be a colossal failure, it will never be approved, it’ll take too much time, we already tried that.

Or the all time favorite: we’ve never done it that way.

I’m not talking about the well thought out business objection here. I’m talking about the people for whom the first response to everything is “no.” In some cases this person may even be your boss. It may not be just your idea they hate, it might be the introduction of any new concept that challenges their notion of the status quo.

There may be lots of other reasons they respond the way they do. But the only thing you can control is how you navigate the conversation on your end. So here are ideas for doing just that.

Here are eight ways to deal with this kind of workplace thinking:

1. Don’t Get Sucked in to That Vortex

Sometimes negative comments suck us in and we thing “oh they’re right.” And they may be, but that has not been substantiated. When you hear that negative push back, make a mental note that this is a negative thinker and change-up the conversation.

2. Validate Your own Optimism for the Idea

If you get objections that something won’t work, exert your own optimism that it hasn’t actually been tried yet. Reference ideas that were previously thought undo-able that have succeeded. Stay grounded in reality, but be positive.

3. Don’t Argue

Trying to convince a truly negative person that they are wrong is futile and time-wasting. They’ll dig in. It draws you into a win/lose conversation which is not what you want.

4. Get to the Root of the “No”

Zig Ziglar once said that people don’t want a solution to their problem, they want attention while they HAVE the problem. Being an “objector to good ideas” is sure attention-getting.

It’s also a lot less exertion than coming up with a plan to make something work.

Ask the what, where, how, why questions. Why does this person doesn’t think your idea won’t work? This creates work for the objector, which they may not be so interested in. It gives you more to work with in terms of crafting a response.

It might also empower you and build your confidence.

5. Get Them to Give You the Worst Case

Ask them what is the worst thing that will happen if this idea were implemented. This helps you — and them — identify real risk vs. negative fantasy.

6. Use Negative Nellies Constructively

There may be dreck in the negative response to your ideas, but there also may be some good insight.

Negative people do tend to think worst case scenario. If you’re working on a project or complex idea, these are the folks you want working on your risk mitigation and contingency plan. What really could go wrong and what would happen if it did?

7. You Might Need to Go it Alone

If you’ve tried everything, and you truly believe your idea has credence, you may need to make the call to take some action to explore on your own. If you’re working on a project team or group assignment, there may be risk in doing so.

Think this through carefully. Keep your perspective professional and focused on positive outcomes, rather than trying to prove someone wrong.

 8. Don’t Create Negativity Where You Don’t Want It

If you throw new ideas at someone and want their feedback right away, they may object to your idea because they want time to investigate first. If you don’t give them space to do that, the idea of giving you feedback without analysis may be overwhelming.

Their default conclusion may be that it’s a bad idea. When what they mean is, “I haven’t had time to really assess that and you’re making me uncomfortable by asking before I do.”

Check in with people to see what they need to give you good insight.

Most importantly, keep coming up with good ideas, because your organization needs them. Even if they don’t realize it yet!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Lea McLeod.




Lea McLeodAbout The Author: Lea McLeod is author of the Resume Coloring Book. Check it out if you are struggling with writing your resume in today’s job market. She’s also founder of the Job Success Lab so that you can GO PRO in any job! Follow her on Twitter and her blog: DegreesofTransition.com.


This entry was posted in Career Advice and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.