“That’s Not a Terrible Idea…” Don’t Let a Tepid Response Push Your Hot Button

Recently, I was working with a client who—in response to a suggestion I made regarding how he might move forward—said, “That’s not a terrible idea.”

While my internal reaction was “Harumph” I caught myself before it became my external reaction.

Why? Because while it would have been easy to say something… non-generous, it’s important to remember that some (many…) people need to feel ownership of an idea in order to adopt it.

Given that, I have found in moments like these that it’s far more effective to say something along the lines of, “I’m glad you think there’s potential. I know you’ll be able to improve on it once you’ve given it more thought.”

Now I’m guessing that some of you—having read that—snorted a bit. (Internally if not externally) If you were one of those people, I would ask you to notice, please, that the above paragraph says, “effective”, not “easy”.

The easy thing to think (or say,) would be “Harumph” or “What do you mean it’s not a terrible idea? It’s a great idea.” or “The heck with you. I’m going to take my excellent ideas elsewhere.”

But that doesn’t get the job in question done—and it’s unlikely to help you keep your job.

So if (when) you are greeted with a tepid response, I suggest—to the best of your ability—swallowing your pride and allowing your lukewarm colleagues/chums/family members to “improve” on your idea.

Because one thing I know about you, is that you are smart. This is not going to be your only good idea. So let this one go, because another will be turning up momentarily.


If you’re dealing with an emotional hoarder (kissing cousins with an idea hoarder) take a look at “Are You Working with an Emotional Hoarder? How to Tell and (More Importantly) What to Do About It”