Have you had someone present a new idea or a change that they want to make to you? Before they even finish, are you ready to tell them why it won’t work? We all use our experience and our beliefs as a filter of judgment to things that are new. Do they fit into what we believe or not? What if you suspended your judgment and looked at things with a completely open mind instead? What if you assumed that the person just might be sharing a really good idea and you should hear them out? How would this change your conversations?
Using this thought process has really changed how I view circumstances that occur and what people say to me. This is something that can be used both personally and professionally. I will give you a few my own examples to illustrate what I mean:
I had gotten a new car and was sitting at a stop light one morning on the way to work. I had my foot on the brake, but not all the way down and the car gently tapped the car in front of me. The lady got out of the car in front of me. I was preparing myself for the yelling that she was going to do about why I just bumped into her car. Instead I was completely taken off guard when she said “are you okay? I just wanted to make sure you didn’t have a heart attack or something.” No, I just need to keep my foot down on the brake more!! She assumed that there must be something wrong to have made my car bump into hers.
How many times have you had someone cut you off or run a light in front of you? Your immediate position may be to think they are stupid (or insert your own word here), but what if they did that for a good reason? I am not saying that they shouldn’t drive correctly, but what if they just found out their child was rushed to the hospital or had been in an accident? The point is to put yourself in their shoes and think about what they could be going through and view it with a positive intent.
The second example is when I had to make a presentation about a large project that I was leading to a group of people in another group. I was going to need their support and really wasn’t sure how they were going to feel about it. The leader of the group was someone that I knew, but had not presented to before. She gave me a warm introduction to her team and I felt that I immediately had her support even before I started the conversation. The presentation went really well and I got the agreement with her team. When I talked to her after the meeting she shared that she had some concerns about the project from a few years ago. Before I came in to the meeting, she decided that she would clear those concerns away and look at it as if she had no previous judgments at all. By doing this she helped me to be successful and her team to be open to what I shared.
That situation happened more than 10 years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. I think people’s initial inclination may be to tell people why their idea won’t work or poke holes into it. Being open to the idea and looking at ways to support it no matter what your past thinking on it may be is a game changer. When you remove the judgment filter immediately, it changes how you see things. There are people that come to you with something new every day. Assume that they are coming from a positive place, suspend your judgments and look at how it could be implemented. If you do that and find that it still isn’t the thing to do at least you gave it the opportunity to be successful. How many ideas have been shot down immediately without even giving them a chance?
There are some famous examples of people who were told no immediately. Walt Disney was told he lacked imagination and turned down 302 times before he was given the money to build Disney World. The Beatles were rejected by multiple record labels before they were signed. Imagine how things would have been different if Walt Disney and The Beatles had given up? I would bet the people who heard their ideas and turned them down now wished they had given them a shot. The message is to assume the best of others when situations occur or in conversations. It will change how you see the world around you.