The powerful “yes, and…”

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In one of the trainings I attended earlier this year, we had a small game to experience human collaborations and reactions.
The game was to in 3 rounds with each group formed by 2 persons, one raised an idea and the other gave a response.

1. First round, the response is always “No”
2. Second round, the response is “Yes, but…”
3. Last one, each one starts responding with “Yes! and…”

In most of the groups the first 2 conversation stopped after a few iterations, because the person who proposed ideas got so frustrated that he shut up. However, the conversation with “Yes, and …” went on and on even when we ran out of the 2 min time, and during the 2 min, there were so many ideas generated!

People ask me why I am so energetic and passionate with the extra role I took in my current employer as “Communication SPOC”, one of the reasons is that the person I report to always gives “Yes, and …” answer. It sounds small but it is very very motivating, and usually we got so enthusiastic and lots of more ideas and improvements are produced in the conversation itself!

Why is “Yes, and…” so powerful?
1. It shows you listened
Listening is so important! A person with good communication skills always listens. Some people interrupts another during a conversation with “I know this already, I have a certificate in PRINCE 2”, or “Come on, I know the difference between this and that, I don’t need another info session”…

Nobody really knows everything, if you resist to listen, your knowledge always stays at the current level, and of course you won’t notice.

2. It shows you are open minded
In general, it is quite hard to stay open-minded all the time and embrace changes and challenges.
Sometimes you would find people always try to find a reason to say “No” to people, just due to reluctance to changes or challenges.

3. It shows you are interested and involved

Giving “Yes, and ..” answer requires you to listen, think and react on the proposal so that you can build up his or her idea. It is not easy.

I used to report to someone who says “Yes, yes yes” to everything all the time, and after a while I got so bored and no longer motivated.
Always saying “Yes” would imply that, you are not listening, not interested, or everything is always perfect. In all cases, it is not a place to learn new things and grow.

4. How about “Yes, but…”
An evil twin of “Yes, and..”, because your emphasis is always on the ‘but’, and it is not a signal of acknowledging but rather denying.
Imagine you are in a situation and made a proposal to your boss, compare the following 2 scenarios:
“Yes, but we don’t have time and resources for this”.
versus:
“Yes, great idea! And let’s align this with the market manager and product manager, make sure we can work in a team on this. Put me in copy so that we can check the next step in 2 weeks.”

It is amazing how a little word can change so much, right?
“Yes, and ..” is a powerful tool for collaboration, negotiation and effective communication, if you don’t believe it, why not give it a try?

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2 comments

  1. It’s a pity that I missed such a helpful artical. I think the philosophy behind “Yes, and…” is to always think positively and feedback with willing to go further. Gonna keep this in mind and apply it to my daily work and life. Thank you so much, Lin. YOU ARE AN ANGEL!!! <3

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