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Shut down the one-trick pony

Diplomatic ways to handle employees’ pet proposals

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You ask for ideas, but they come at a price. Some employees will repeatedly insist they have a great idea and prod you to act on it. They’ll inflate its importance, as if it’s a life-or-death matter and you must support them now ... or else.

Don’t lose patience. Their “baby” deserves your courtesy, at least. Here’s how to respond:

Keep an open mind. Even if the idea’s a dud, ask clarifying and hypothetical questions. Then follow up to show that you’re taking the issue seriously. If you ultimately reject the idea, you’ll still earn credibility by investing time in understanding it.

Reflect their enthusiasm. If someone is excited over a “brilliant” idea, don’t roll your eyes, look down, shake your head, jiggle your feet, glance at your watch or otherwise reveal rejection. Act like you’re truly pleased to hear about it. But don’t nod approvingly the whole time or you may lead the employee to think you’re all for it.

Take notes, acknowledge when you agree and mirror the employee’s energy level. That way, you dignify the person as a valuable, respected contributor—even if you wind up bypassing the idea.

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