Ask What Would Make the Impossible Possible

I encourage you to use the question, “What would make the impossible possible?” as a way to move your or others ideas forward when you encounter someone who is resistant. How often you heard someone respond to a solution or idea with, “That’s impossible! It won’t work!”


When someone says something is impossible, first calmly ask “Why do you say that?” in an attempt understand why they believe the way they do. Of course, it is not uncommon to get a response like, “Because it just is!” or “Because it’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!” or something similar. These are common kinds of responses when someone doesn’t really want to have to justify their position. Remain calm and respond with something like, “You may be right, but I’m just trying to understand why you think it is impossible so I can understand why my thinking is wrong.” The idea is to reduce the confrontational attitude of the person.

Then Acknowledge

Once you finally get the person to explain why they believe something is impossible, be sure to acknowledge any valid points they make as this sets up the next step. Now that you know their objections you may be able to offer ways around some of them. For those that you cannot, now is a good time to ask a form of the question, “What would make the impossible possible?” By doing this you are putting it back on them to think about possible solutions. Again, you may get resistance in the form of “Nothing will make it possible.” Rather than take this as a defeat, perhaps you can ask a question such as, “Are you sure. Maybe there is a way to make this work. Help me think of alternatives. It could be we end up going a totally different direction, but at least help me know for sure that I’m off base in my suggestion.

Keep Pressing

It is highly likely that the person, depending on their personality and how strongly they feel about their position, will continue to push back. Remember, unless it is someone at a higher level you are within your rights to press for a satisfactory answer. Eventually you should arrive at a point where you can either say, “You know, I think you’re correct. It does seem like this won’t work. Any other ideas?” or “It looks like with a few changes this could possibly work. I’m open to any modifications you think would help. If we find out it isn’t worth it, then I’ll drop it.” Then, whatever your response, be sure to thank them for at least considering the possibility of your idea working.

Some Final Thoughts

The question “What would make the impossible possible?” is powerful. Just be sure to use it in a non-confrontational manner. You’re trying to build a cooperative rather than adversarial relationship. Oh, don’t forget it works both ways. If you think someone’s idea is unworkable, tell them you’re not sure how it will work and ask them to explain some more about it to help you understand.

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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