Have you ever been struck with a game-changing idea for your business or organization, only to have it struck down by another person?
Whether you’re an experienced CEO or entering your first job after college, we’ve all been there at some point in time… We’ve all had an idea that stops us in our tracks. We can’t stop thinking about how it could solve a specific challenge or create a whole new realm of opportunities. But when we share our ideas with our boss or others impacted by the decision, it gets rejected immediately.
In an article published in Psychological Science, psychologist Jennifer Mueller explains that an idea can only be “correct” if it matches a paradigm. Essentially, Mueller makes the point that we often get pushback around our ideas when they come in conflict with the way others see the world.
The question then becomes, how do frame our ideas so that they match the way people see the world?
How to Get “Buy-In” for Your Ideas by Creating Common Ground
Here are a few different strategies we can use to get more “buy-in” for our ideas by creating common ground with others involved in the decision-making process:
Tailor the Way You Present Your Idea
When it comes to getting buy-in for your idea, it’s important to know who you’re talking to. How someone sees the world has tremendous influence in how they perceive your idea. Who are you pitching? What are their goals, values, and experiences? How can you make the idea speak to them? Tailoring your presentation and meeting people where they are is key to creating a common ground to talk through the idea.
Frame the idea Around a Shared Goal or Objective
We’re a lot less likely to get pushback when we can explain how our ideas are mutually beneficial. How does your idea support a strategic organizational goal? How does it fit into the big picture of what you’re both working together to accomplish? These are important to define in order to create common ground and align our idea with the paradigms of others.
Attain Clarity Around Touchy Phrases or Words
We all come to the table with different perceptions of what certain words or phrases mean. For example, let’s say you have an idea for a “pilot program” to test out a new product. In your mind, the program would only last six weeks. But in someone else’s mind, they might think a pilot program lasts six months. Clarifying what you mean exactly when you say “fill in the blank” is critical.
Identify Expectations for Making a Decision
Some people need time to process new ideas, while others are better at making a decision in the moment. Some are internal processes while others need to discuss ideas with another person or team. Whenever you present an idea, it’s important to consider how the other person typically makes decisions and identify an agreed upon timeline and next steps. Do they need time to think about the idea? Should you suggest a follow-up conversation? Should you send the idea in an email or mention it in-person? These are all important questions to consider.
The hard fact is that even if we try to create common ground when pitching an idea, it could still be rejected. However, taking the time to consider these four strategies gives us a much greater chance of actually being heard and increases the possibility of getting buy-in for our game-changing ideas.