Skip to content
There are many sources and types of bad ideas, including those contrary to the natural law, common sense, and (of preeminent interest to us) Catholic teaching. The three generally go hand in hand!

Table of Contents

What do you do when someone pitches you a bad idea? Is there such a thing as a bad idea? The SmartStorming Blog sums it up well: “As Osborn (considered by many to be the father of brainstorming) put it, we should suspend judgment. He did not say to eliminate it, just to suspend it. This would imply that we will eventually evaluate and judge whether some ideas are unacceptable, impractical, or simply off-target. But we must suspend that judgment until an idea has had a chance to ‘percolate.’”

There are many sources and types of bad ideas, including those contrary to the natural law, common sense and (of preeminent interest to us) Catholic teaching. The three generally go hand in hand! But how do you show care and respect for the dignity of the person suggesting a "bad" idea, encourage growth in communications and relationship development, and maintain positive team/family dynamics while still saying No? Consider the following...

You Must Listen

First, listen to the idea in its entirety. Are you in a decision-making role, advisory role, or not the right person to engage? If you are the decision maker, ask clarifying questions. Try to understand WHY the person is proposing the idea. What aspect of the challenge at hand do they think it will address, or what benefit do they feel the idea will bring? Are they looking at the issues from a narrow, personal, or broader, inclusive perspective? Who are the stakeholders involved? Have similar ideas been tried and run into difficulties? How were they addressed? Are there inherent controversies or political agendas that don’t align with mission and purpose?

Consider the Proponent

Let me interject a word of caution here when following up to learn more about the idea and the motivation behind it, be self-aware of whether you are genuinely engaged in enabling a Better Yes, or just looking for justification to say No. How invested is the person themselves in the idea? Are they likely to change their mind if they sleep on it or have the task and expense of implementing it? Active listening, demonstration of respect, and encouragement to keep looking for ideas and solutions may be more important to the person than the acceptance of the specific idea itself!

Dissect the Idea

Once you actively listen and consider the proponent, can you provide a Better Yes by addressing the base need or achieving the desired benefit by suggesting alternatives, modifying the idea, or resolving apparent conflicts by separating parts of the idea spatially, temporally, or functionally? It’s okay if the answer is No. In Mathew 7:9, Jesus says: “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?” By the same token, what if someone asks for a snake, scorpion, or something harmful to them, the business, or the community? There are circumstances where a simple, clear, kindly spoken, no fuss No, enables the person to seek a Better Yes by facing a challenge or enduring a sacrifice needed for growth.

Prepare a Defense

So, what do you do if after you have listened, proposed modifications or alternatives, or politely explained why the idea is not tenable at this time, the person's ego and pride make them fixated, adamant on pursuing the idea and looking for conflict? First, buy yourself some time. Have you prayed for yourself and the person suggesting the idea? A confessor once gave me a suggestion I truly appreciate and find to be wise – pray to your Guardian Angel and theirs. Doesn't that bring a great image to mind? Our Guardian Angels can be engaged and cooperatively help us work through conflict? Second, objectively outline the pros and cons and review them with a trusted advisor before re-engaging the proponent of the idea. It will help your confidence and ability to articulate your position succinctly. Third, know your rights and who you can escalate to or request additional support from that may help tip the scale.

The National Catholic Bioethics Center, Anscombe Bioethics Center and similar organizations are fantastic resources for finding clear position statements for controversial issues (transgenderism, abortion, euthanasia, etc.). The Hour of the Laity: A Lay Catholic Conference by Tepeyac Leadership Inc. in November will also provide valuable resources for you! #THL2023 #WhyTHL.

If you have approached the situation with an open mind and prayerful heart, trust that God will walk with you on the journey, guide you and support you, for even He says No or Not Yet sometimes in order to enable a Better Yes!

Click the button below to learn about and register for THL2023!

Visit Our Sponsors!

Alere Group

Ave Maria Mutual Funds

Catholic Association of Latino Leaders

Catholic Charities of Orange County

Catholic Cemeteries & Funeral Homes

Catholic Cemeteries & Mortuaries

Catholic Community Foundation

Catholic Education Arizona

Desert Diamond Casino

Divine Mercy University

Exodus 90

EWTN Global Catholic Network

Home Light

Napa Institute

Notre Dame Federal Credit Union

Mary College at ASU

Obria Medical Clinics

Pietra Fitness

The Diocese of Phoenix

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul

Young Catholic Professionals

Latest

Announcing the Birth of a Network!

Announcing the Birth of a Network!

Tepeyac Leadership, Inc. (TLI) has launched The Catholic Professional (TCP) social network, a new space which seeks to become the premier online community for Catholic professionals of all ages, worldwide. The TCP network will focus on leadership, finances, innovation, board service, and professional development—as well as—interior life, virtue,

Members Public
3 Tips on Dressing Professionally

3 Tips on Dressing Professionally

In business, image is everything. Well, not exactly everything, but it’s a good chunk of it! Appearances can sway a person or be used to cultivate a certain perception or mindset. These can be highly advantageous from a business standpoint. Of course, there’s so much more to being

Members Public
Following Mary’s Example in the Professional Life

Following Mary’s Example in the Professional Life

May is the “Month of Mary” and a time of devotion to honor our Blessed Mother. Mother Mary’s significance serves as a profound model of faith, hope, love, charity, and devotion. For centuries, numerous awe-inspiring miracles have occurred demonstrating Mary as a powerful advocate and mediator. By entrusting our

Members Public
Nurturing Professional Relationships: 5 Tips on Networking Follow-Up

Nurturing Professional Relationships: 5 Tips on Networking Follow-Up

Happy Easter Season! Let’s continue to spread our Easter joy in every interaction, cultivating this joy within each of our professional relationships. Celebrating Easter can be done via following up as we network and build and invest in long-lasting connections. In our previous Networking 101 article, we outlined some

Members Public