Posted by: LYF | December 17, 2008

“…it was how you said it”

I shall take it that you are in the first flush of ambition, and just beginning to make yourself disagreeable. You think (do you not?) that you have only to state a reasonable case, and people must listen to reason and act upon at once. It is just this conviction that makes you so unpleasant.Microcosmographia Academica: Being A Guide For The Young Academic Politician

That was a quote from “Microcosmographia Academia” in a Bob Sutton blog post I read today.  It reminded me of my first job and how I thought the acceptance of my ideas depended only on the strength of my arguments.  And it reminded me of how frustrated I got when I was repeatedly proven wrong.  I got really frustrated when people wouldn’t listen to me and that would unconsciously infuse my tone with an abrasive edge.  And from an outsider’s perspective I’m sure I looked really immature.

So if you have a good idea what can you do?  Well if your idea is good and you don’t need permission to pursue it, then go ahead and get it done.  If it really is a good idea, it will work out.  And if it isn’t you’ll find out really quick.  If you need permission – i.e. you have to go through your boss – phrase your idea as a question.  Factually present your idea, explain why you’re unsure about its success and cite the latter as your reason for needing a second opinion.  This has a double benefit.  Usually, you will come across as humble and whomever you’re speaking with will have a stake in your idea.  This will make it easier to get their support in the future as your implementing it.

It’s just important to realize that people don’t owe you anything.  Have a good idea? Great.  That doesn’t mean everyone must or should listen to you.  It takes time to develop the credibility and relationships that will entice others to want to listen to you.  Coming out of university most people don’t have either.  That’s why it’s so important to view yourself with enough detachment to separate your tone from your arguments and look at how the former could be sabatoging the latter.


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