In Tim Sanders‘ terrific new book, Today We Are Rich: Harnessing The Power Of Total Confidence, he talks about being a “builder of ideas” as opposed to a “destroyer of dreams.” He suggests being a “partner and collaborator” rather than what he calls the opposite, “the devil’s advocate.”
He was not suggesting one should simply encourage ideas that appear to have major faults in their very premises; not at all. Only that there is a way to provide feedback that is encouraging and productive, and allows the other person to come to their own conclusion.
On page 99, he provides an option for when — indeed — you believe the person sharing their idea has some definite obstacles they may not have considered seriously enough. He writes:
“At the end of the presentation, ask her to name a few obstacles the plan would need to get over. Almost every time, you’ll hear the same ones that came to you as you heard the idea. The tone, however, will be positive as the speaker lays out the objection and her answer to it because she’s driving the conversation.”
Of course, people tend to believe what they say rather than what we say. So, Tim’s advice is very practical in terms of that alone.
However, I believe his main point was that there is an alternative to being critical while still helping a person to see there might be some challenges with their idea.
Tim’s suggestion allows both for constructive feedback, and for the one presenting their idea to feel good about themselves. It also communicates they are safe in bringing ideas to you for council and advice. They know you care enough about them to provide your honest and genuine view, while doing so with tact and encouragement.
Are there people you feel that kind of comfort with in presenting an idea? And – in that regard – how do you do with helping those who come to you with their ideas?