Gaining Buy-In

Get people to buy-in to your ideas by involving them.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #47

Listener Eren writes in:

Sometimes (at school) we need to work in teams (boy, I hate that). A friend comes up with a goofy idea, someone else proposes something incomprehensible, and I have just the right idea. We debate, but at the end we can't chose, and mixing up our ideas makes it even worse. How can I become the true boss, and try to convince them my idea is truly better?

The quick and dirty tip is to get them to take ownership of the idea as well.

Hi, Eren. You asked “How can I become the true boss?” That depends what you mean by boss. We live in very strange times. When people become bosses, they start ordering people around. They say, “Write reports! Sweep the floor! Submit your will to mine and let me absorb your soul!” The strangeness is that when their boss said that to them, their response was, “Stuff it,” and they weren’t talking about packing for camping. They hated being ordered around, yet they expect it to work when they’re the one playing dictator.

Being the true boss is not about letting people have your way. It’s about getting the group to move forward, hopefully with the best solution. Let’s say you’re teamed up with a friend for a science fair project, and you’re choosing a topic. You want to see if giving chickens red contact lenses will stop them from pecking each other. Your partner proposes measuring how much methane the local meat packing plant gives off. While you see the obvious advantages to the chicken topic, sometimes being a true boss means moving things forward, even if you don’t get everything you want.

And by the way, you’re assuming your idea is best. What do you think they’re thinking? Are they thinking, “Gee, Eren’s idea is best, but I’m going to argue because I like being a jerk?” Of course not.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.