Sooner or later, even the most skillful pussy-footer in the office is called on to make a recommendation to a superior. And whether it's for a multi-million-dollar ad campaign or a way to reorganize somebody's files, the tactics to follow are basically the same.

First, in drafting your proposal, be as non-specific as possible. Sprinkle it liberally with waffles, such as "within the limitations of the budget," "in so far as practicable," "to the extent compatible with company policy," "when timely" and the like. (With any luck, your boss will ultimately tell you when timely is and how much you can spend.)

Unfortunately, you can rarely tie a little waffle to every paragraph. That's the reason for proceeding to the overall waffle. When presenting your recommendation, characterize it as an "approach" that's "in the right direction." You're stuck with edging that far out on a limb anyway; you weren't asked how to go wrong. But notice the subtle beauties of the phrasing. It acknowledges rough edges to be honed, details to be worked out. This hedge will be forgotten if your proposal is totally loved, but it's a haven you can fly to in the face of flak.

You should expect some flak, of course. In business, both total approval and total rejection are almost unknown. (But note the careful almost--another lesson.)

Faced with a major objection, one way to respond is to explain, "That's why I'm getting to you at this stage, so we don't spin our wheels or get too far off the track." (Note: Don't be afraid of cliche's; if your boss were smarter, he/she would be doing something else.)

If you were assisted on your recommendation by an underling, there's a better response open to you. Smile, or even chuckle, and say, "Good, I wanted NAME to know I wasn't the only one questioning that."

With practice you'll learn that nimbleness like this is just as successful as quality of thought. Often more so.

Certainly these hints are a step in the right direction.

If executed properly.

Don't you think?