The Smart Response to New Ideas | FourSight

(hint: It isn’t criticism)

Often our first instinct is to criticize new ideas. But there is a better approach and one that leads to more creative outcomes.

Video Transcription

What if I told you that I could make your IQ go up ten points in the next two minutes? I’m Sarah Thurber and this is your two-minute thinking tip from FourSight. So growing up, I wasn’t the smartest kid in the class. Roger Wu was the smartest kid in the class. And you knew this because every time the teacher asked a question, Roger’s hand went up. And whenever there was a math error or spelling error, Roger spotted it. He was like a heat-seeking missile for errors and he would blow them up. In my mind, Roger was the very definition of smart. So imagine my surprise as an adult when I started studying creativity to find that the heat-seeking missile approach to new ideas was not so good. New ideas can’t handle being blown up, because they are new. They’re like babies; they need nurturing, they need guidance, they need strengthening before you go at them with criticism. So if you are not supposed to criticize a new idea, how are you supposed to respond to it? Well, there is a tool for that. It’s called Praise First, and guess what the first step is? Praise. First you look at a new and idea and say what’s good about it. What do you like? What is surprising or exciting? Or, what would it make possible if you actually did it? Then you can voice your concerns, which, no doubt, you have. But voice them as questions, open questions like, “How might we fund that?” or “Have you considered how to get Janice on board?” When you praise first, you let the other guy know that you have seen the value of their idea. They think you’re a genius. They think your IQ just went up ten points! You’re welcome. Next time you hear a new idea, hold back on the heat-seeking missile. Don’t explode it with criticism. Praise it first. Not only will you look smarter but you may just help grow a new idea. And that is your thinking tip from FourSight.

Sarah Thurber

Sarah is managing partner at FourSight and the author of The Secret of the Highly Creative Thinker, Creativity Unbound, and Facilitation: A Door to Creative Leadership. Her work helps teams and leaders think creatively, work collaboratively and achieve innovative results.