Separating ideas from people is an essential skill for being heard.

Open Reference

We live in a work world that requires creative energy.

Professional designers learn early that they are not making art, but this doesn't mean they don't do art. We are all in this odd tension, putting art into our work, then presenting that work as non-art.

People can fall into a dangerous trap when the creative mind ties the value of our ideas to our identity.

When ideas become part of someone's identity, regular feedback and collaboration sessions can confront personal identity. Feedback not intended personally can cut deep and stall the progress of a group. For this reason, it's an essential skill to separating ideas from people.

How to separate people from ideas:

1.) Be aware people have different levels of creative maturity.

2.) Speak to and about the idea - "this idea," not "your idea."

3.) Focus questions on the concept, not the person - "why did you do this?" can challenge identity, but "what's the reason this...?" speaks to the problem.

This is not walking on eggshells for people who take things personally - this is a collaboration boxing slip. Someone is sharing ideas; you see the ego, so you drop your shoulder and lean in close, the glove of personal identity flys by - you get close to the work, past a person's ego.

I've seen this approach of separating people from ideas move a team past communication problems dozens of times.

Yes, it can be a lot of effort at first, but slowly over time, this can become our new way of operating - speaking in a way that's heard. 

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