The Danger of “YES” and How to avoid it

Do you like the word “Yes” or “No” better?

Of course we like to hear the word “Yes” more than we like “No”.  As the parent of small children, our preference for “Yes” over “No” begins at a very young age.  As adults, we may not throw ourselves onto the floor as we kick and scream, but we have some pretty shocking ways of pouting when we are told “No” as well.

As someone who has participated in hours of sales training over my career, the one phrase which sticks in my mind is, “With every No you receive you are one step closer to hearing a Yes.”  That takes an amazing amount of twisted thinking to find comfort in that statement, but the point remains; We value “Yes” over “No”.  The famous country singer, George Strait, recorded a song about this entitled, “Check Yes or No” with the focus being on children passing notes during class.

Books have been written about this and one titled Getting to Yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in by Fisher, Ury, and Patton, all hinges on getting a “Yes”.  If you are married, think about your marriage proposal.  Everything hinges on getting/giving a “Yes”.

Now we fast forward into our adult life and we still desire a “Yes”, but now it is not always a good thing and many of them are dangerous.  Let’s look at two examples of where “Yes” is bad.

  1. Surrounded by “Yes” men/women – Have you ever been on a team, in which the only right answer was to agree with the person making the recommendation.  You may have not been in the position for very long, but you notice a coworker question a decision and very soon that coworker is working somewhere else.  Or, your opinion or input is sought and quickly you realize the only reason anyone else was asked was to support the decision which was already made.  If you are the decision maker, do you have “Yes” men/women around you?  Iron sharpens iron, but if everyone agrees with everything you say, everyone suffers and becomes dull.
  2. You are a “Yes” person – Because of who is leading your team, you have taken your brain out of your head and placed it on the desk every morning when you arrive at your office.  You are not allowed to think of new ideas or better ways of doing business, so you quickly stop thinking about anything other than when is it going to be lunchtime and will five o’clock ever arrive.

I am not suggesting an unprofessional approach to having your voice heard, because then you are introducing another problem which will need to be addressed.  This “Yes” culture is destroying great minds from the top of organizations to the bottom.  The good news, it can be fixed.

Please comment below!  Have you ever been in any of these situations?  How did you make it better?
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