Have you ever had a coworker come to you with an idea that they think is wonderful and amazing – and you absolutely hate it? What should you say to your excited coworker? How can you tell them that their idea is trash without coming across as short-sighted and mean?

Well, if you’ve ever been in this awkward situation and been unsure of what to do, author Kathryn Vasel is here to help. There is a way to get your message across without discouraging or upsetting your coworker. Just follow these steps:

  • Keep an open mind – When your coworker is telling you about their idea, try to keep an open mind. Even if your immediate reaction is negative, try to put that aside and really listen to what your coworker has to say. Yes, there may be certain things about the idea that you don’t like. But there might be some good elements in there too.
  • Ask a few questions – Get your coworker to think critically about their idea by asking a few questions, such as “Do you think we have the time and resources to put this project together?” or “Do you think the client would be satisfied with this approach?” Get your coworker to see the weaknesses in their idea so they’ll be able to reshape it into something more effective and doable.
  • Be honest – Even if you hate an idea, you can still say that it’s “interesting.” (It’s a better adjective than “terrible.”) But you should also be honest about your concerns. Tell your coworker that you think the idea has some shortcomings, and then clearly explain what they are.
  • Get a second opinion – Ask yourself if the reason why you don’t like the idea is because you’re afraid to try something new. If you’re not sure whether the idea is truly bad, or whether you don’t like it because you’re wary of change, don’t give your coworker immediate feedback. Instead, ask for a second opinion. Talk to another coworker and see what they think. It can often be really helpful to get another person’s perspective.

Vasel, K. (2019, October 15). How to tell a colleague you hate their idea without crushing their spirit. CNN Business. Retrieved from: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/success/work-colleague-bad-idea