Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


Does Your Boss Ignore Your Ideas?

Follow these tips to get your boss to consider your suggestions.

Key points

  • Bosses sometimes protect their egos by only moving forward with their own ideas.
  • To get your ideas heard, make sure to present your thoughts strategically.
  • Read the room, do your homework, and take note of constructive criticism.
  • Even though the boss makes the final decision, this should not sway you from sharing a valid suggestion or idea.
Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Some bosses only advance their own ideas and obstruct the ones they don’t originate. If it’s their idea, it has enormous potential; but if it’s someone else’s, they slash it to shreds.

These types of bosses are unreasonable in the way they disagree with or oppose what you suggest. They don’t want to delegate the act of thinking to anyone else on the team. If you dare to suggest an original thought, you’ll feel the tag “Troublemaker” being pinned to your back.

You wish your boss would plan with you, not for you. If the procedures to improve the operation are so obvious to you, why doesn’t the boss want to hear any of your suggestions? You get the feeling that she resents your interference. She probably does.

Strategy: Your goal is to get your ideas considered objectively without antagonizing your boss.

  • Carefully consider your approach. Remember that perfect timing is as important as the content of your message when trying to persuade your boss to consider your ideas.
  • Review the checklist below before making your move. Take time to reflect on the questions and adjust your technique accordingly.

A Checklist for Offering Unsolicited Ideas and Proposals

  1. Are you offering suggestions for the boss to consider rather than demanding changes? All you can hope for is that your idea will be considered; it’s the boss’s role to determine the value of the suggestion.
  2. Do you give the boss a part in the development of your idea? If relevant, mention that this is an outgrowth of something he or she said last week, or that the idea came to you this morning when the boss was discussing the need to increase productivity. You get a boss to hear you by showing you have heard the boss.
  3. Before plunging in, do you ask if the boss has a few minutes to talk with you? If you don’t, you may catch your boss at a bad time.
  4. Before you talk, do you put your thoughts on paper? If you ramble, you’re wasting your boss’s time. Be crystal clear and sharpen the main points to be brought out.
  5. Do you deal with drawbacks as well as benefits? This is especially important when it comes to spending time, money, and other resources. When preparing a proposal, pay close attention to whatever the boss says on the subject. Use questions to get your boss to restate a position. Expand your idea with ways to implement the boss’s position.
  6. Can you defend your plan if it’s torn apart? As the boss is talking, make notes of what you consider to be legitimate objections. When you speak again, first answer the valid criticism and then continue with other positive points.
  7. Did you do your homework? Is it possible this fantastic idea of yours was already considered and rejected? Is the regulation you want to change one that was initiated by your boss? Protect yourself.
  8. Is your plan in sync with the aggressive style in which the boss paints himself? Beware of suggestions the boss might resent because he should have come up with the idea and didn’t.
  9. Do you ask the boss how long it will be before she might have a decision? Leave the door open by learning when to check back.
  10. Do you give a new boss time to size up the operation? Refusing all suggestions from you and your colleagues may be an effort to appear confident when the boss doesn’t feel in command. Don’t say anything yet. You may no longer have a problem once new bosses get their bearings.

Tip: Appeal to your boss’s ego. She needs to feel like the originator of any new plan. Show her how your idea stems from her initial thinking so she is more likely to listen. Better yet, ask the right questions so that she feels that you came up with the idea together.

Copyright© 2022 Amy Cooper Hakim

More from Amy Cooper Hakim Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today
More from Amy Cooper Hakim Ph.D.
More from Psychology Today