You have an idea that’s a little—or perhaps, very—outside the box. You’d like to float it by your teammates, but in a way that underscores that it’s just a suggestion. After all, you’re just throwing some ideas against the wall, trying to come up with something that’ll work.
It’s a delicate balance. You don’t want other people to think you’re set on this approach, or that you’ve found some magical solution, when you’re not even sure how you’d execute it. But, you do think your idea’s worth considering.
Sometimes, when people are afraid of overselling an idea, they end up introducing it in a way that sinks the pitch before they’ve even finished sharing it.
Here are three phrases you want to be sure to avoid, as well as better options.
1. “This Is Probably a Horrible Idea…”
Over the course of the workday, you have a ton of information to process. So, you’re constantly categorizing. You order tasks by priority: What needs to happen now and what can wait? You break them out by how long they’ll take (e.g., What can you actually accomplish before that mid-morning meeting?). You think through what you can push ahead by yourself versus what you can’t move on until you hear back from a co-worker.
And you know what else you categorize? What is—and isn’t—worth your time, or in other words, what is (or isn’t) a “good idea.” So, when someone starts a pitch with the phrase “This is probably not a good idea,” your brain thanks him for being so transparent, dials down the listening and creative thinking skills, and prepares itself to say, “Nope, as you suggested, that isn’t worth our time.”
A much better approach is to present your idea as “an option.” After all, you’re probably prefacing it that way because you want to be clear you’re not suggesting a cure-all, just a possibility. So, position your thought as a contender, one to be considered and then adopted (or dropped), accordingly.