You have an idea that you think is great, how do you get buy in?
New ideas mean change and people don’t like change. They want to know what’s in it for them and how affects them, because it moves them out of their comfort zone into anxiety.
Women and minorities have trouble when it comes to having their ideas heard. Men may underestimate or dismiss women and minorities if they are quiet or introverted. However, they are labelled as aggressive if they speak up.
Timing and the audience you are pitching your idea to, may affect whether your idea is heard or not.
Ways to Present Your Idea
These are suggestions as to how to have your voice and idea heard:
- Present your idea clearly and rationally to the decision maker.
- Ask questions, this will help people see things from another perspective.
- Speak up during discussions or meetings.
- Encourage others to speak up (especially if they are quiet or introverted).
- Make helpful suggestions to improve a process, which doesn’t add to the cost.
- Volunteer to participate on a committee or special project.
- Find a champion to help you present your idea.
- Build on a point someone else made as a springboard to present your idea. For example, Jane made an excellent point about XXX, I’d like to build on it.
- Caution: Defend your point or position-this tactic can alienate people because it puts them on the defensive, so use this one with care.
Know Your Audience
No matter what your idea is, you need to raise awareness.
I used to feel discouraged when I presented my idea to a decision maker, and they didn’t love it like I did. Their rejection made me think that it was a bad idea. I would go away, analyze the idea, and test my assumptions. Only after I did this, and I was convinced that it was a good idea, I reframed my thinking. I realized that the timing wasn’t right and there were pressing issues that took priority over my idea, so I tried again when I felt the timing was better.
Not all ideas are good, so be ready for a no. Be open to suggestions. The idea may need a revamp, a rethink, or a trash can dump.
Sometimes you may have to walk away from your idea if the decision makers are not ready for it, even when you are convinced it is sound, doable, important, and would make things better. Use it as an opportunity to learn from the situation.
“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.”
It can be hard to get attention or buy-in for an idea. I stumbled across this method-the dripping water method by accident. This way isn’t for everyone, but I found it an effective way to influence thinking.
The idea is presented subtly and repeatedly over time to raise awareness. Once others are aware, familiar, and understand it, the idea gains momentum and it becomes easier to accept.
I was involved with a project that had the potential to improve processes and outcomes on a national level. Unfortunately, poor leadership, lack of direction, missing information, and a compressed timeline put us at risk.
Luckily, I was also a member of a sub-committee that was tasked with looking at the impacts and risks of proceeding.
I repeatedly raised my concerns (dripping water) along with a solution to the decision makers in my organization. I enlisted champions to help raise the level of awareness and urgency. As a result, we used external subject matter experts to provide the missing information to members of the project team. This helped the project team make the necessary adjustments for a successful project.
Was this a lot of work? Yes! Our goal was to get the best outcome and we did.
So, what does being heard have to do with a leadership mindset?
Being able to communicate your ideas successfully is what separates leaders from followers.
Obviously, there are a lot of ways to get your idea across. Keys to being heard are raising awareness and knowing your audience.
- If the audience is willing to listen, your persistence will pay off.
- If the audience is unwilling or unable to listen to your idea, you need to let it go and move on. “Ask yourself is this a hill to die on?”
I found great success with the dripping water method for long term and strategic issues, but it is more work and takes more time.
People will pitch their idea in a way that is comfortable for them. Don’t be afraid to find your voice and use it.