Is Someone Shooting Down Your Ideas?

September 4, 2011 by
Filed under: Leadership, Positive Attitude, Relationships 

Beware of the four gallingly common strategies that people use to shoot down a person’s ideas. These tactics are all the more common against a person who’s been identified as a leader within their organization…but why?  In the world we’re in, there are many people who unfortunately don’t like to think about how to solve a particular issue. They’d rather do what is probably the simplest thing a person can do.  Point out what may be wrong with an idea without giving an alternate solution for the problem the idea is attempting to address. I’m sure you’ve probably never witnessed such a scenario.

I always think back to the first time I read about an interview with the great statesman Dr. Albert Schweitzer where he was asked the question of what’s wrong with men today. His answer, “Men simply don’t think.”  (Note: My last two sentences where not meant to give a feminist any extra fodder against men out there, the answer was given by a famous person who happened to be a man as well.8-) )

The four strategies that I’ve seen people often use to shoot down a person’s ideas are:

(1)    Death by delay

(2)    Confusion

(3)    Fear Mongering

(4)    Ridicule

These four types of “attacks” on a person’s ideas are often done through a couple of dozen questions, comments, and/or arguments. Any one of these questions can cause an unsuspecting person to cave in and give up on their idea.

  1. We tried that before and it didn’t work (<– this one is one of my personal favorites).
  2. No one else does this, why should we try it really.
  3. You can’t have it both ways.
  4. Ah! What about THIS? [“this” being a worrisome thing that the proposers know nothing about and the attackers keep secret until just the right moment].
  5. Good idea, but the timing is all wrong.
  6. It’s too much work to do this.
  7. It won’t work here. We have a unique situation.
  8. It puts us on a slippery slope.
  9. We simply can’t afford this. / It’s just too expensive.
  10. You’ll never convince enough people.
  11. You’re abandoning our core values.
  12. It’s too simplistic to work. / It sounds too simple.
  13. Sounds like [something horrible] to me!
  14. People have too many concerns to do that.
  15. It’s too difficult to understand.
  16. You have a chicken and egg problem here.
  17. Your proposal doesn’t go far enough/your proposal goes too far.
  18. We’re simply not equipped to do this.
  19. Money [or some other problem a proposal does not address] is the real issue here.
  20. You’re exaggerating the problem.
  21. You imply that we’ve been failing!
  22. What’s the hidden agenda here?
  23. What about this, and that, and this, and that…?
  24. We’ve been so successful. Why should we change? (if it’s not broken, why fix it?)

What’s Your Response?

One of the more common responses people often do to is often the first thing they should not it they want to succeed with their idea. All too often people push out the ‘troublemakers’. Why do that? Here is a golden opportunity. Why not just let them in and treat them with respect. Allow them to always be part of the solution. Listen to their concerns and criticism. The opposite of respect in that situation is shooting back. If you start shooting back at a person who is criticizing you, others will see that you are shooting at them and may become sympathetic to the other person even if his attack wasn’t fair!

Another type of response that often backfires is drowning a person in a half-hour’s worth of evidence. Drilling them basically into the ground with information as to why your idea is a good one that will definitely work. It’s better to communicate in ways that are simple, clear, short and to the point. Research by authors John P. Kotter and Lorne A. Whitehead had shown that the most effective people, instead of just spraying verbal bullets, respond in a way that is simple, clear and filled with common sense.

Never let it get personal, no matter how much you want to lash out.  Just understand that the person is really attacking the idea, not you. Keep an eye on the entire audience and not just the one critic. It’s very easy to get hung up on the guy who’s attacking your idea.

Last Words…

The saying that states, “He who laughs last, laughs best!” is not one that I agree with. The phrase that often is more accurate to me is, “He who laughs last, doesn’t really need to laugh at all!” He lets his idea prove him right.

When one has an idea, it’s never simply the idea that makes it to be a working idea. One thing is to be able to generate an idea by digging up data, analyzing it, and putting it together in some form of logical way. But it’s another thing all together to gain the support one needs in order to get the idea off the ground and working!




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