How to Get People to Listen to Your Ideas at Work
When we feel that our ideas are not being heard, or that our managers and colleagues are not listening to us, we may quickly resign or take a break from work . Despite having a good idea, we may say to ourselves, “What’s the point of sharing? No one pays attention to my ideas anyway.” While this viewpoint may be justified, it is also unfortunate because it deprives colleagues of our unique point of view, which could have a valuable impact on our work and even our careers.
When our ideas seem to be rejected, it is most often due to the way the idea was presented, not the idea itself. For example, time matters. I used to work for a boss who seemed to ignore most of my ideas. I approached him at the end of the day, not wanting to interrupt him. Then I began to pay attention to his style. I noticed, and colleagues confirmed, that his energy (and positive mood) was at the start of the day and week. He was more open to ideas before he exhausted his energy making decisions and solving problems. Everyone on the team realized that time plays a big role in getting support for our ideas.
If you find that your suggestions don’t work at work, take a step back and examine your approach before deciding that the idea was bad or that your boss isn’t listening. Most likely, your strategy needs to be improved. Take these tips into account.
Consider an idea before sharing it
We all had “eureka!” the moment when we think of something that (to us) is brilliant. Maybe it’s a way to save time, fix a problem, or improve service. One client told me that he recently experienced a similar moment on the treadmill. He came up with a great idea to restructure the program. He let his excitement get the better of him and blurted out the idea at the next morning’s staff meeting. He was greeted with silence by some and old-timers on the team who said, “Yeah, we’ve tried that before and it didn’t work.” He said he felt depressed.
When inspiration strikes, spend at least 24 hours researching. This means finding out if the team has experience with a similar idea or if it has already been proposed and rejected. Also consider budget and workload. My client shared that the silence in the room was also a reaction to the idea of creating more work for the team while they were understaffed. Not because the idea was bad, but because it required long hours of work. Do your due diligence and research your ideas before pitching them.
Discuss the idea with others
Identify a few people who might be affected by your idea and talk to them informally about it. Put forward an idea, get feedback and other points of view. Warm up people without requiring any commitment. This step can also eliminate blind spots in your thinking. New ideas always need to be adjusted, and it is impossible to catch all the consequences on your own. Chat with a few people to get perspective and build support.
Anticipate what the decision maker will think
When working on any new idea, it is important to know who is making the decisions and what they think of the idea. Find out what’s important to them and what else is competing for their attention. Also pay attention to how they make decisions. For example, I know leaders who won’t make a decision unless they feel there is consensus in the team. This means that they will not make a decision if there are objections. Others will call even if some disagree. Knowing the decision maker and pitching their ideas in a way that suits their style and needs will go a long way in getting the ideas accepted.
Team up with others
As a rule, today’s workplace is not very suitable for a credit wolf – an individual saver who seeks to work independently. The current work environment includes teams and collaboration. If you want your ideas to be supported, show that you are a team player. Invite people who support your idea, as well as those who don’t; be open to their criticism. It’s a good experience to work with people who don’t agree with your ideas. Productive disagreement is still focused on the job, not the person. So when someone disagrees, it’s not a personal rejection; idea needs to be improved. This disagreement paves the way for more creativity and innovation. The outcome of an idea will have more impact if it is viewed from different perspectives. Also, it shows that you care more about working with others for great results than about being the center of attention alone.
Skills in thinking broadly about your ideas and partnering with others will benefit you at every stage of your career. Without a doubt, it is more difficult and takes more time. But by changing your perspective a little and building relationships with others, you are more likely to achieve greater success and satisfaction by gaining support for your ideas.