Do your ideas get rejected by others?

How do you get people to listen to your ideas when they just don't 'get it'?

An AI image of a group of people listening to Socrates

In the book Sell or Be Sold by Grant Cardone, he outlines the premise that if you're not the one doing the selling, you're being sold to. While you may think this is mostly a book about sales, it's more nuanced than that.

We often find ourselves making decisions with others. It could be where to go for lunch, what music to play, or in the workplace, how something should be done.

We negotiate through dialogue to try and sell our ideas to others and they try to sell their ideas back. Sometimes, we don't often be clear in why we want our ideas to be heard, so we navigate around it hoping that they accept what we say and we get what we want.

In the workplace, our ideas can be wrapped up into who will be left responsible for all the messy detail and hard work. During my employment at Ericsson, I would often be in the middle of highly charged debates about whether some functionality should be done on the hardware by low level programmers, or if it should be done by the user interface programmers.

Needless to say, it would often result in a "but you're wrong" discussion in order to 'win' the decision making. Secretly, I loved this as I would pay attention to both teams saying their piece, and I would way to deploy my secret weapon.

How to stop your ideas being rejected

If you're completely focused on what you want to say and aren't really listening then you're out of luck, this won't work. However, a lot of people do fall into this trap, and these may be the people you need to help sell your ideas to.

It starts with understanding that everything has pros and cons. To navigate this you need to start asking questions about other people's ideas and let them evaluate the pros and cons in real time. Let them discuss what works and what doesn't.

Your role is to prompt the right questions to focus their thinking on the real issues at hand.

This is called the Socratic Method. It's the technique of focusing the dialogue to break down the underlying assumptions so they can be scrutinised one by one.

The technique was derived from the Greek philosopher, Socrates in the second half of the 5th century BCE.

Let others build new understanding

With a careful execution of the Socratic Method, you can prompt others to start entering problem solving mode. This helps them adopt new thinking that they may not have previously considered.

In my earlier example of working with low level programmers and UI programmers, I would ask very targeted questions that would present scenarios that they hadn't considered. When they thought about it, their reasoning shifted more towards a desirable solution.

The best part of this method, is that they may conclude a whole new solution—a better solution than either yours or theirs. This not only means they have shifted perspective, but also accept the new ideas because they came up with them.

The best way to sell your idea is to make the other person think it was their idea

Sometimes being honest is easier

The truth be told, you may be trying to sell your ideas because you don't really want the other person to know why. This is fine, but it does make it a lot harder, and a lot more stressful. But if you do feel confident enough to explain what your motivation is, it can give a lot more context to the reasoning behind your ideas. This will help allow others to accommodate your ideas better.

We all get wrapped up in our own thoughts. Time and time again a simple discussion turns into an awkward disagreement. What's happened here is that the lack of being heard has triggered an emotional response by someone. It can be like the flip of a switch in mood. This is almost always caused because someone has concerns or feelings they are trying to defend, but aren't being heard.

If you are this person, being honest with yourself about your feelings on the topic can help a lot.

Should you need to tell others what's really going on? I don't believe so. But at least be mindful what's happening. And if you're observing that in someone else, just be mindful that they're feeling overwhelmed and it's time to step back and collect thoughts.

The ah-ha moment

The ah-ha moment of today's issue is that we're constantly wanting our ideas to be adopted by others, and others want their ideas adopted by you. The Socratic Method can help break down the assumptions and bring a more unified understanding to the discussion.

When done well, you either learn and accept a new viewpoint or get your ideas accepted. The best part is that others feel like they were part of the solution and are more committed to it.

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