It doesn’t matter how much people hate the way things are working now; introduce a new idea and enthusiasm for the status quo is guaranteed to skyrocket. Suddenly, all the old problems with the old way of doing things will be solvable. But the new problems with a new way of doing things will be painted as insurmountable.

Acceptance of new ideas is often the most important predictor for their ultimate success or failure, so building acceptance needs to be a key component of any change strategy. Here are five ways to overcome discomfort with new ideas.

  1. Share control, credit and ownership. Provide plenty of opportunities for fleshing out the details, offering suggestions or improvements, and recognizing those who build on the idea. Ask for opinions. Everyone is more accepting of ideas they’ve helped generate than those imposed on them.
  2. Be enthusiastic – and honest. Allow your excitement and enthusiasm for the idea to be contagious. But acknowledge your own misgivings, as well. Admitting the imperfection of your idea makes it easier for others to focus on the positive rather than the negative. It may also trigger suggestions for overcoming potential future problems.
  3. Present your idea at a good time. Gauge the mood and dynamics of your group, and find a time when people are feeling positive, relaxed and engaged. Don’t make it easy for people to say no by introducing a new idea when people are upset, angry or about to end a meeting.
  4. Ask your listeners to do, not just to listen. Taking action – even if it is only information gathering – gets people engaged and begins building ownership. It also ensures the idea moves forward to another meeting, rather than being shelved and potentially forgotten.
  5. Make it pretty. Fair or not, attractive sells. Eye-catching visual aids and elements that appeal to all five senses may help your idea gain support, or at least attention.