When Someone Calls Your Baby Ugly

ugly_baby_by_dleish-d53u50lHave you ever been presenting an idea which you think is great and revolutionary only to have everyone in the room mock it?  This phenomenon is known as having your baby called ugly.  You feel terrible and begin to doubt yourself.  Depending on how long you have worked on the idea, you feel like you wasted tons of time and are probably going to get fired.

If you work on the product development end of your company, you are numb to this type of rejection.  It is part of your job description- right up there with drinking too much coffee and eating too much sugar.  But for the rest of us that are sensitive to what people think about you, what can we do to move on?

1.       Separate Fact from Opinion.  Many times, even in a very visceral response, there are some good facts in the criticism.  Take the time to hear the message, not necessarily the words being spoken.  You can learn a lot about the deficiencies of the idea this way.

2.       Ask Probing Questions.  Take the time to ask people questions that remove emotion from the equation.  If someone does not like the color of a package, ask whether a different color may be better.  If you ask why you do not like green, it is likely to illicit an emotional response.

3.       Look at Your Idea with Fresh Eyes.  Now that you have received negative feedback, look and see where the idea can be improved.  If it is a new process, review each step and see where the breakdowns are- and fix them.

4.       Do Not Get Defensive.  Your natural instinct is to fight back.  This is almost always the wrong response.  Impassioned pleas work well in the movies, but not so much at work.  Take in the criticism and defend your position, but not to the point where you are going to crying discussing it.

5.       Scrap the Idea, If Needed.  Sometimes your ideas are not going to work.  Whether it is a toy that the kids don’t like or a form that no one will fill out.  Cut your losses and go back to the drawing board.  If 10% of your ideas stick, you are a prolific innovator.

Now throw all of this advice out if you truly have a groundbreaking idea.  If your company or clients don’t appreciate it, find an audience that will.

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