Early in my career with a national CPA firm I was advised to make my point then “give them time” to reflect on it. As is the case of many youthful endeavors, we tend to push too hard in an attempt to get others to embrace our ideas. I certainly did in the instance that triggered the aforementioned advice.
By pushing hard I not only put the other person on the defensive, I said that he was wrong in a public forum. Not one of my finer moments. The person offering me the advice acknowledged the fact that I was right, then told me that I’d enjoy greater success if I allowed others some time to reflect on what I said and come around to my way of thinking…assuming that I’m correct.
I’d love to tell you that I always follow this advice, but I still fall into this trap from time to time…although much less frequently than previously.
Why give them time?
There are a number of reasons why the advice I received is so valuable:
- The harder we push an idea, the greater the resistance we create.
- As resistance goes up, the likelihood of acceptance goes down.
- Some people are more deliberate in their thinking and require more time to analyze the idea presented. These folks often describe themselves as not being “quick on their feet.”
- Some people may lack a frame of reference for evaluating an idea; consequently, accepting the idea requires them to trust. Trust is not something that comes easily to us…especially when in unfamiliar territory.
Regardless of the reason, we enjoy greater success when we allow others time to evaluate the idea we’ve presented. If our idea is correct, if it will produce the result desired, others will come to the same conclusion.
No is not forever
In a similar vein, a Harvard Business Review article entitled No Is Not Forever, the author says that if you see a problem, or a potential problem, and offer senior leadership a solution, and get a no, keep the solution handy. The problem will only get worse. When it gets bad enough to gain senior management’s attention, you’ll have the solution and they’ll be open to hearing it.
This is simply another way of saying “give them time.” This simple approach works equally well with your family, friends, acquaintances and business associates. No one, including the kids in our lives, likes being pressured into accepting an idea. We are much more likely to embrace a concept that we feel we were a part in developing…or at least validating with our experiences.
When an idea you’re presenting meets with resistance, back off. Give the person some time to consider what you said without feeling pressured. By backing off you’re accomplishing several things; you are:
- Expressing confidence in your idea.
- Reminding yourself that you took all the time you needed to form the idea; it’s only fair that they should have time to evaluate it.
- Being respectful of the other person’s approach to evaluating ideas…especially those more deliberate in their thought processes.
- Leaving the door open to the possibility that your idea may trigger an even better idea from the person(s) to whom you presented the idea.
When a person restarts the conversation about your idea, do NOT present an “I told you so” attitude. That’ll destroy whatever gains you may have made. Instead, acknowledge the logic they present about your idea. Ask them if they see a better way of getting the desired result. Look for areas of agreement on which you can build an action plan.
Life gets easier, for us and others, when we give them time to think.
For our kids
When you see the kids in your life pushing a point of view, or pressing for a decision from someone, share with them the fact that they are decreasing the likelihood of getting what they want…that they’re actually creating resistance to their idea.
Ask them “How would you respond if someone was pressuring you?” They’ll quickly realize that they’d resist in the same manner that the other party is resisting their idea. Then share with them the value of backing off and allowing the other person time to think…to get comfortable with the idea before having to decide.
Finally, and most importantly, live the message. Kids mimic the behaviors of the adults in their lives. When kids see the success you have from being patient, from giving others time to think and evaluate, they’ll adopt these behaviors and enjoy greater success in all their endeavors.
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