It is frustrating to have creative, marketable and potentially lucrative ideas that go nowhere because you can’t seem to communicate with your manager. Maybe she doesn’t listen well. Maybe she is a micromanager and likes her own ideas better. Whatever the reason, I would not suggest giving up easily. Here are three suggestions.
First, keep your emotions in check. Yes it is possible to be honest and polite at the same time. Focus on your end goal for the conversation and don’t give up. If you start throwing in comments like “I can’t ever get you to listen” or “your plan makes absolutely no sense” then be prepared for defenses to go up and the conversation to end poorly. Use “I” statements rather than “you” statements. Emotions will flare if you attack personality traits in any way. Stick to the facts as much as possible.
Second, take a few moments to consider your manager’s communication style. Does she prefer facts and figures or does she make decisions on gut reactions and an emotional pull? Does she prefer when people get right to the point, or does she like to hear all the details? Perhaps your natural communication style just doesn’t mix well with hers. Adapt. Provide the type of information that you know is important to her. Is she all about the bottom line? Do your research and have estimated bottom line projections. Adapting to your audience is always critical with persuasion.
Third, remember the dynamics of what goes on in people’s minds during potentially confrontational situations. If your manager begins to feel threatened or annoyed by your idea, her defenses will quickly go up. Don’t ignore this. Stop pushing your ideas and focus on her. Why is she feeling defensive? Ask questions, clarify, and bring the conversation back into the safety zone. Once things are back under control, continue delivering your plan.
Developing your great idea is the easy part. Gaining buy-in for the idea and then making it happen are the challenges. Learning to effectively present those great ideas will have a huge and positive influence on your career. It is worth the effort.