When you’re introduced to someone, you wouldn’t start the conversation with, “Hi, I think your hair style is a big mistake.”
So why do we greet new ideas with “That will never work”?
How to greet an idea respectfully
Picture being introduced to someone you’ve never met. You look them in the eye, and you shake their hand. You want to make a good first impression while you’re also forming your first impression of the other person. Now is not the time to hit them with all the negative thoughts that pop into your head.
You hold your opinions to yourself for now and make time to get to know the person better. You show interest in them, ask questions to learn more about them and listen to their answers.
You don’t necessarily agree with everything they say, but you show respect for them by listening first.
You can do the same when you greet new ideas.
Practice greeting each new idea with a friendly hello and pause
Listen to the new idea without responding. You don’t have to agree with the idea, or think it’s a good idea. Hold your objections for later.
First show interest in the idea. Ask questions that help you learn more about it, not to help you poke holes in it. Avoid throwing out all the potential problems and reasons not to try it that pop into your head.
People learn by doing, trying and sometimes by failing. If you stop them from trying, you’re stopping them from learning. But there’s one question you can ask that will help them learn the most while failing the least.
The magic question to ask of all new ideas:
How could you test that idea in a tiny way?
Every idea is good enough to test. It might lead to another idea or a new approach. It might inspire someone else to try another new idea.
The smaller the test, the smaller the possible failure.
That’s the Idea Friendly way.
Greet a new idea like you would greet a new person: with your respect, not your opinion.
Get more Idea Friendly Implementation tips in the video Idea Friendly Next Steps from SaveYour.Town.
Thanks to Jurek Leon for sharing this concept in his newsletter several years ago, inspired by Paul Hellman, author of You’ve Got 8 Seconds.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.