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Pitch your great ideas by brushing off the naysayers

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Issue: Winning over the higher-ups with your ideas is a key component to success.

Risk: "Negative Nellies" in your workplace can kill your best ideas unless you're prepared to fend off their negativity.

Action: Follow this four-step plan to successfully outmaneuver the negative forces in your way.

When light bulbs pop into your head, is someone usually there to turn them off?

Don't allow people who ooze negativity to crush your great ideas to improve operations, cut costs or reduce liability risks.

You know who we're talking about: people who shoot down ideas with "We've tried something like that and it didn't work." Those people can snuff out your brainstorms if you don't outmaneuver them. Here's a four-step plan to do just that:

1. Mobilize allies with "pre-sell" meetings. The more people you convert early on, the more likely your formal pitch will sail through.

Come prepared with any necessary handouts or facts to show that you're not shooting from the hip. Say "I want to make sure you're comfortable with the idea." Then listen. Dealing with concerns now helps your idea from being shot down later.

2. Plan ahead for dissent. Before uttering a word about your idea, play devil's advocate by jotting down possible objections to your idea. Then prepare to answer those responses.

To help silence the "That'll never work," gripes, try to gain buy-in from at least one respected, senior-level person early in the game, so you show others that person's interest.

3. Answer the question "What's in it for them?" As you pitch your idea, let the other person know how it benefits him or her. Naysayers will quiet down once they see the direct value to them.

4. Strike quickly. If you plan a three-month consideration time for your new idea, you'll give doubters plenty of time to mount their opposition. But by driving the turnaround in, say, one week, you strike before they can muster their negative force. It's better to fail quickly and move on or do it again than to kill any action with "paralysis by analysis."

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