What’s your gut reaction to something new?

One of the people I admire a lot, Rolf from Norway, wrote in his blog a couple of weeks back on the way that people react to ideas, based on an interaction he had with some of his colleagues. His post really got me thinking about the way that your ideas, concepts, and thoughts are reacted to.

I am a person who will have a lot of ideas, some of them good, some of them not so good, most of them having lots of obvious flaws when they come out of my head for the first time. When you are sharing about these ideas with people I think you meet (at least!) two basic responses.


The first one (and sadly a very common one) is based on exposing the flaws, critiquing the idea or saying that it won’t work. People will generally start “That is a great idea, however did you think about problem X,Y,Z with it”. This approach I identify as the approach that Rolf described as having the result of “killing enthusiasm“. I can very much relate.

When I’m approached with this way of thinking I generally become impatient, maybe even annoyed, or frustrated. Second approach I find from people is that they start asking questions or give ideas not in order to expose flaws or weaknesses in the idea, but rather to build on it. They’ll say things like “That’s a great idea, it would be even better if we did X,Y,Z”, or “That’s a great idea, how do you think we could make it work in the context of A?”. This type of response creates excitement and energy with me, moves the idea forward and will make me really engaged.

Both responses start the same. Both approaches have their place, and some people will prefer the first to the second and vice versa. They both will be able to tackle issues caused by the idea. However the reaction they will create within me, the way that they will move the idea forward for me, is radically different. To me, the second way of approaching a new idea or concept doesn’t mean that you say yes to everything presented. Rather it is about seeing the value in every concept or idea, and trying to capture in which context or where this can be applied. I am pretty clear of which type of approach I want to be surrounded by and work with, and I’m going to make sure to take steps to myself have this approach to as large extent as I possibly can.

Photo courtesy of nectarous.