If you’re pitching ideas, you’re going to encounter criticism, judgment, ridicule, and animosity. You won’t (probably) receive any actually punches in the face, but as a general rule the more push-back you get, the more creative your idea is.
It’s easy to take criticism (especially harsh criticism) personally, but it’s not you they dislike — it’s the idea you brought to the table.
I find that when people take an instant dislike to an idea without really pausing to consider the concept itself, there are usually three primary reasons they feel this way…
- They didn’t think of it
Some people have a problem with any idea they didn’t come up with themselves. There are even techniques you can use to position your ideas in a way that makes it easy for the other person to sort of “come up” with the idea themselves right after you basically hand it to them. There is some value to this approach when you don’t care who gets the credit for the concept and you simply want to see it get put into action.
- Your new idea is replacing their old one
There is a chance that you’ve come up with a better way to accomplish a task than the existing process. Someone came up with that original process, and it’s possible that very someone is in the room to hear you say the old way sucks and your new way is better. You just called their baby ugly and they’re not going to be happy.
- Your idea means more work for them
If the alternate solution you’re pitching is chosen for implementation, the budget and personnel required to turn your idea into a reality has to come from somewhere. If that somewhere is the domain of someone sitting on the other side of your pitch table, you might encounter a few objections.
The trick to being able to roll with these kinds of punches is to expect them.
When a professional boxer or MMA fighter steps into the ring, they are never surprised that their opponent is throwing punches at them (it’s kind of the whole gig).
A professional fighter (and you) need to anticipate the punches (objections) your opponent will be hurling at you, and be prepared with defense measures like blocks, dodges, and counterstrikes.
You’ve probably prepared and rehearsed your presentation, right?
You know exactly where you’re going to increase the volume of your voice or lower it to a whisper in order to get your audience to lean into your proposal. You know which hand gestures you’re going to use and you know when you’re going to use them. You may have even visited the conference room you’ll be meeting in so that you can walk the room to get a feel for your surroundings.
If you’re doing all that prep work on the information you’ll be delivering, why wouldn’t you prepare for the punches you’ll be receiving?