Have you ever come across something really great? It could be a new product, a great book, or a new idea.
Upon learning about it, you feel that it is so fantastic or so beneficial that you can't wait to share it with someone else. Only, when you reach for your phone to share this great new thing, the voice in your head changes from "this is great, they could really use this" to "what am I thinking?...They won't need that!".
From here, your thoughts go into a bit of a death spiral and become:
"if I suggest this, they will get offended" or
"if I tell them about it, they will laugh at me" and finally
"there is NO way they need this and I am not going even suggest it to them to save us both the trouble!"
The habit of allowing our presumptions to control our actions can have significant detrimental and costly effects on both personal and professional performance.
Consider the salesperson that presumes their existing customers won't have any interest in buying a fantastic new product and therefore doesn't make the pitch, losing out on possibly thousands of dollars in sales revenue.
Or consider the marketer that comes up with a great idea for a new marketing campaign...one that will surely garner attention in the marketplace. However, after presuming it is too out there for the conservative senior management team, she assumes her idea would be rejected anyway and never presents her idea, causing the company to miss an opportunity to generate hundreds or thousands of new leads for the sales team.
From our own experience at The 2% Factor, we have been approached by many smart and successful people for help only to have the help we offer rejected because these people presume that any solution where "the other guy" won't play by the same set of "rules" can't work.
Of course, this presumption is made to their detriment as they continue to seek an answer that requires other people to change rather than themselves.
What is it that can siphon away the energy and excitement a person feels when they find a fantastic new idea?
What is it that prevents them from both implementing that idea in their own life and sharing the idea with others who could benefit from it?
The single greatest perpetrator is our innate FEAR OF CRITICISM.
FEAR OF CRITICISM
Within each of us is a strong desire to be socially accepted by those we believe are our peers.
Acceptance also includes a deep need to be respected by others both inside and external to our group of peers. The opposite of respect and acceptance is criticism.
As a result of this need for acceptance and the fear of not receiving it, many of us have conversations in our head that sound something like this:
"This is great, I can't wait to tell the others..but what if I tell them and they aren't as excited as I am. What if they think I am implying they aren't as [insert adjective here such as 'smart', 'professional', 'competent', 'capable', etc.] as they think they are? What if they take it the wrong way and get mad. I don't want them mad at me...I better not say anything."
As I write this, my mind keeps going to the high school student that is afraid to speak up for fear that the cool kids will laugh at him and not let him eat lunch at their table.
What is most interesting, however, is that the criticism we all tend to fear the most is criticism from the 2%er.
A 2%er is someone who, when they cause harm to another person, doesn't care. The 2%er justifies and rationalizes his or her behaviour as the "right" behaviour. 2%ers are never wrong and never act inappropriately, at least in their own minds, and feel they are actually doing people a favour by saying or doing things that negatively affect others.
This is interesting because we generally respect the 2%er less than others in our life. Few of us also want to hang around and be friends with the 2%er. So why is their opinion so important?
It all comes back to our presumptions.
HOW WE SEE A 2%ER
We presume (for reasons that may be completely illogical and unfounded) that the 2%er is superior to us in their knowledge or their experience or the level of authority and power. This presumption causes us to build the 2%er up into something much more than they truly are.
The answer is to quiet the voice that presumes and not listen to it anymore.
Often, if our first instinct is that someone could benefit from an idea, they usually can.
If they don't agree, so be it...at least you gave them the opportunity to decide.
Stop protecting others from your ideas and, instead, respect their right to decide if the idea is for them or not. And...if a 2%er unleashes their criticism at you, call us, we know what to do.