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How changing one word can make all the difference…

October 17, 2011

If you’re into creating great relationships – both at home and at work – then be aware that there’s one horribly easy way to stifle enthusiasm, creativity and passion in someone else. How? When someone tells you about an idea, simply utter the response, “Yes…but”!

“But” – is a limiting word that makes the person on the receiving end feel inferior. While some people get their kicks out of making themselves feel better by putting others down, it doesn’t make for harmonious relationships. In fact, using the phrase “yes…but” is a surefire way to create resentment within the people that you live with or manage (whether that management is upwards, downwards or sideways!).

What makes us say, “yes…but”? Sometimes, it’s because of our previous experience which tells us why an idea simply won’t work and on other occasions, it’s because we’re closed to any idea that we haven’t thought up ourselves!
Recently, my client Mark admitted he was having problems handling his junior colleagues. Having been promoted to a management position for the first time, Mark had been desperate not to put a foot wrong – which is why he played devil’s advocate with his workmates’ suggestions. What he hadn’t bargained for though, was the negative backbiting that his attitude created.

Wondering what he could do, he’d turned to me for advice.
The solution was simple. ‘Change “yes…but” to “yes…and…”’, I suggested. ‘When you say “yes…and”, you’re not only respecting the other person’s ideas but you’re also showing that you value their input. It’s more encouraging to hear “Yes, that’s interesting – and we need to think about …” rather than, “yes, it’s an interesting idea but you haven’t thought of…”.’

Mark tried this new approach for a month and reported back that his difficult staff had miraculously become much easier to work with!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Denise permalink
    October 17, 2011 1:00 pm

    You are such a wise woman.

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