How to Rise When Your Big Idea Gets Shot Down

If you want to accrue power and respect, then you become a person who can pitch great ideas — and persist when they get rejected.

Television writers' rooms can be notoriously competitive places. You've got a bunch of precocious, pithy people all running on caffeine and ambition and under unforgivable deadlines. You succeed in this space not only when you have the best ideas, but when you can convince the most people that your idea (or story or joke or plot) is the best for the show.

Some people get good at pitching ideas in a writer's room, and you get used to a lot of those ideas withering an undignified death on the floor. Others don't make any impression at all; they mourn the loss of every precious brainstorm; and they don't last long in the room.

Which one do you want to be?

If you want to accrue power and respect — in any room — then you become a person who can pitch great ideas — and persist when they get rejected. And they will get trashed; it's the nature of working with other people who don't share your brain.

Here are four ways top to rise when your big ideas are shot down.

Consider your timing. Did you drop your epiphany in the middle of a big meeting? Was that the first time anyone (besides you) heard it? Yeah. Your chances of a warm reception are pretty low, unless you're a master improvisational orator. There just isn't the chance for others to clear their attention of a million other priorities and focus on you, what you have to say.

Brazen Blog suggests sussing out colleagues, even your supervisor, one-to-one before you introduce a new concept to a group. You're getting feedback and building a coalition of support along the way.

Lick your wounds, as long as you're healing your resolve. Rejection hurts, especially when you're low on the totem pole or low in your confidence. A full brush-off from your team or from a boss can kill your drive, even if you truly believe in your ideas.

Take a pause to soothe your emotions. This pause can be long, a few weeks even, if the insecurity and hurt are big. Or it can be a few minutes while you simply let the person who just rained on your parade "jump in with explanations or advice, taking the heat off you temporarily before re-entering the fray," suggests speaker and author Sam Harrison in Fast Company. In either case, you're not wallowing to wallow, but to refocus on what's most important to you.

Hear questions in criticism. Harrison has a ninja-like persuasion move for getting your idea to rise. While the party pooper might be saying, "This idea isn't consistent with our goals," you can "convert the objection to a question in your mind. "Instead, hear [the person] asking, ‘Can you help me connect your idea with our goals?' Converting what sounds like an outright rejection into a request for more information helps soften the sharp edges so you can respond as a helpful adviser, rather than just defensively."

Assume success. The modest or timid among us might assume that once an idea is shot down, it's dead. After all, the important people didn't get it or like it or give you lots of praise for it (the addiction to praise is definitely fodder for another blog!). Your idea must stink.

This isn't true. And you can suss out the potential quality of your idea by asking your boss or colleague why they nixed it. "Offer your assurance that if it's truly a bad idea," writes Brazen Blog, "you'll drop the issue and re-focus on other areas of importance to the company."

If you were off-track, then you know that it's time to send your energies in a new direction. But if you were close, then re-pitch it with revisions. You can also ask if there are "key stakeholders who can provide feedback to improve the quality of your future efforts."

Assume that eventually you will figure out how to match your idea with the circumstances at hand. Then, chances are, you'll get to make your idea come true — and that's all the piles of rejection.

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