How to React to New Ideas

In general, people don’t like new ideas. What I mean by this is that the first reaction “most” people have to a new idea is FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.) It’s natural based on how our brains work. We love patterns. Things in motion stay in motion, things at rest stat at rest. A new idea would change that pattern and make us uncomfortable.

This is not meant to put anyone on the defensive. This is how our brains work. This idea itself makes people uncomfortable. We like to think of ourselves as open to new ideas. MY statement above contradicts that.

New ideas DO make it into the mainstream, usually with prolonged effort. I remember my step-mother declaring “Mark my words! The Internet is a fad!” in 1997. She wasn’t just wrong, she was acting the way we all act when we hear new ideas.

Here is an alternative way to react to new ideas, although it has a Catch-22 aspect to it. It’s a new way to react, therefore a new idea, therefore will make you skeptical. I know this is a problem.

However, if you could just think of my alternative as a thought-experiment. A “What-If” scenario, if you will. Imagine that my new way of reacting to ideas was a psychology experiment that you ran in a lab. Your job is to try and get it to work. Your job is not to break it. If you approach a new idea as something that needs work and its YOUR job to work on it, then maybe you won’t crush the idea so quickly.

A new idea is like a little flame on a matchstick or a birthday candle. One negative word could snuff it out in an instant. Snuff out a few ideas and everyone will see that new ideas aren’t welcome. What new ideas need is oxygen, encouragement and development. How could this idea change the world for the better? Why is this a good idea? How could it be improved and be even better? Talk about the idea.

If you find yourself saying, “I’ll be devil’s advocate”, you should leave the conversation. Your contribution is 100% useless. Not only are you acting like a lawyer (bad) but you are defending the devil (very bad). New ideas don’t need devil’s advocates. They need idea advocates. Give an idea room to breathe and grow.

Not all ideas are good ones. The good news is that my way to react doesn’t mean you commit to every ideas. It means you give ideas a chance to grow. The ones that don’t grow will die on their own. Not every idea can stand positive encouragement. Also, when deciding which ideas to pursue, you have to choose between lots of good ideas. Not doing a good idea is the reality of our world. We are resource constrained.

Think about this idea. Are you being negative about it? That’s natural. Maybe try a different approach.

Not all new ideas are good, but the ideas that will save us and improve our world will absolutely be new.


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