Why you should be careful asking people what they think.

Thu, Dec 16, 2010

Perspective

Why you should be careful asking people what they think.

This isn’t a post about collaboration as a team or building a consensus. It’s a post about ideas, missions and dreams… pursuing them and one of the barriers a lot of us face when starting something new.

There comes a time when you have an idea, an idea that you think is good… so good that you want to share with someone else in order to get their take. But is it really their opinion you want… or is it their approval (otherwise know as validation)?

Be honest, you want them to look back at you and say “Wow, that’s an amazing idea! You should definitely go for it!”

But what happens if they don’t respond that way? What do you do if they rain on your parade with their lackluster response or worse, they tell you that your idea is silly or won’t work?

Then what?

Do you believe them?
Do you give up before you even really began?
Do you let their perspective shape your direction?

Or do you take note, consider what they had to say, make adjustments if necessary and keep going in pursuit of the vision you’ve been given?

You see, the problem with asking someone else for their opinion is that it’s, well… their opinion. It’s not right or wrong, it’s just what they think on the matter. And while getting insight from others is indeed valuable and encouraged from those who are qualified to give it, the weight that we put on that insight is the issue.

Why?

Because someone else hasn’t been given the same vision that you have. They can’t see what you see and their path is likely quite different from yours.

So when they say your idea won’t work or if they don’t see it in the way you do, don’t get discouraged and don’t take it personally. If you truly believe in it and feel that it’s possible, pursue it regardless of the opinion of others.

Who knows, it very well could be that the idea you’re looking for approval on was something God inspired and if so, that’s all the validation you need.

What about you? Have you ever shared an idea with someone who shot it down? Did you pursue it anyways?


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    About Daniel Decker:

    Daniel Decker is President of Higher Level Group, Inc., a strategic marketing and development firm that helps authors, professional speakers, and organizations who are doing good to expand their influence. LINKS: Follow @DanielDecker on Twitter | Visit the "About" Page | Subscribe to the Blog and get updates via RSS or Email.

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    • PaulSteinbrueck

      Daniel, I think you make a good point. Additionally, it's often the people who are closest to you who criticize your dream the most because often they have the most to lose. If your dream involves quitting your job and moving, it's going to change things for your boss, coworkers, inlaws, spouse, and kids. Many of them won't like that. That's why it's so important to have friends and advisers who can look at things objectively and give wise counsel.

      • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

        I agree. Having those objective people near you is certainly helpful but even those people sometimes can't see what we see.

    • Mike Pilliod

      Paul:
      I agree completely! I cannot tell you how much negative feedback I've received from family, friends, and co-workers about my immediate family's decision (myself, my wife, and two sons aged 13 and 9) about packing up and leaving the country to teach in a mission school.

      Daniel:
      When I know something is of God and not of my own self interest, I really care not for the opinions of others as to how they "feel" about the decision. But I do care about some of the details that I may have overlooked in my zeal and excitement about the decision. To me, tha's how I marry the two together. And that's how I approach it with those that I ask for advice…I tell them I'm going, one way or another, and then that takes care of their feelings and opinions on whether or not I "should" go…and we can focus on details; details that will honor God with my entire family obeying the call to go.

      Good post, thanks!

      • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

        You're a good man Mike Pilliod and I know you are a guy who sets down the path that you feel you are being lead down. You are a great example to us all.

    • Jeremy

      I feel that the value of hearing other points of view and ideas/suggestions/directions/risks that perhaps I didn't think of, outweighs the risk of hearing something that might knock the wind out of my sails. (and of course – it's up to you to decide if the wind is knocked out or not).

      When I ask others, it's not because I'm expecting to get a supportive pat on the back, but because I really value their opinions and want to hear them.

      • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

        I agree with you 100% and hope that others will adopt the same perspective that you have. I’ve just run into a lot of people lately who seem to go the reverse by letting the advice of others knock them down versus empower them in some way (even if the opinion is negative or constructive).

    • Jenn

      Hey Daniel, I really appreciate finding your article right now – very timely! I'm desperate and strongly inspired/motivated to make some big changes and work towards leaving a job that makes a lot of money for my family to pursue something that is less taxing on me both emotionally and physically, more fitting for the lifestyle/person I want to be, and better utilizes my god-given talents, abilities and interests. {{ Pretty sure that shouldn't be one whole sentence all stuck together like that… }}

      :)

      My point being: I feel VERY strongly about what I'm planning and working towards – starting my own business doing something brand new for me and not very publicly common as a career path! I've felt for a long time that I'm meant for bigger and more meaningful things than what I'm currently doing. I know I have what it takes to be successful at anything I set my mind too! Finally I've come to a place where the fear of the risk and the unknown isn't gonna hold me back any longer! Yet…. If certain people around me don't see my plan as a successful possibility, am I just kidding myself and ignorantly holding to my goal without giving proper consideration to the thoughts and opinions of others?? Am I setting myself up for failure without realizing – so they will be able to say "I told you so, and you wouldn't listen… Once again, you had your mind set and nothing was going to change your mind." And so, by other people I mean: My Parents.

      My husband has his doubts and fears but has been a beacon of support and understanding. There are others around me who have acknowledged my leadership skills and potential. So who do I believe??

      I just realized I've been giving way too much weight to the opinion of my parents! I have felt like no idea or suggestion is ever good enough or worthwhile in their eyes. I've been taking it personal – I've been assuming that they don't think I'M capable of pursing my wildest dreams successfully. They've expressed to me many times that they recognize my talents, skill-set and stubborn ambition will take me to great things. So why do I get such mixed messages and seeming lack of support when I ask for their feedback??

      Your article helped me realize that, in reality, they are responding to me the way THEY would respond in my situation: stay in your comfort zone, find the things wrong with what you want to do so you have an excuse not to do them… It has been a damper to my spirit and I'm constantly trying to talk myself out of it when I start to agree with their attitude. I had started to think there was something wrong with me when fear and potential discomfort were not enough to hold me back any more. But there's nothing wrong with me! (In fact, I feel like I've already overcome the biggest barrier to success!) And there's nothing wrong with them: we are just different! So now what? Quit asking? Quit sharing? Disregard their opinions? But they (my parents) are so important to me! They really do love me, and want to see me succeed finding contentedness in all areas of life. I know they do! Thanks for helping me come to this realization that will help me work at minimizing the negative impact of their innocently-provided feedback!!

      {{ I may have just shared a complete therapy session I just had with myself….lol… Sorry to be so long-winded! Is it a problem when a comment is longer than the actual article posted?! }} 😉

      I'm very glad to have come across your site and will add you to my RSS feeds pronto!