When someone presents you with a new idea, a new possibility, how often does your response begin, “Yes, but…”? Of course, that “but” is always followed by a caveat, one doubt or another. You rarely say, “Yes but we need to get started on that right away.”
Each and every time you say “Yes, but” you shut off the conversation, kill a new idea in its tracks, and cause the recipient of your words to decide not to approach you again with things they’re thinking about to improve the company.
For many “Yes, but” is the default way to begin a response to just about anything new presented to them. They go straight for all the reasons why it won’t work. Many good ideas have been killed this way. They were butted to death.
There is a better way to respond. A way that opens the possibilities, builds on the new idea, encourages your people and keeps their ideas flowing.
It’s really very simple. When someone shares an idea with you, before responding, pause a few seconds. Think about the positive aspects of the idea and how you can build on it. Then start with “Yes, and” and finish with something to make the idea even better. Notice the smile on the face of whomever you’re talking to as they get excited and respond in ways that build the idea up even further.
Consider the difference: “Yes, but this will cost too much.” The discussion ends and the idea disappears. “Yes, and let’s gather more information on this from our customers and see where it leads.” The possibility takes root.
“Yes, and” encourages, excites, and energizes people to figure out how to keep improving whatever they’re thinking about or working on. It encourages more people to participate and share their own thoughts on the idea. It’s expansive versus restrictive. Energizing versus debilitating.
We’re not talking about debating competing ideas. We’re not talking about fighting over who has the best idea. We’re talking about working together to come up with a better solution to a problem, a better way to provide a service or build a product, or even build on an amazing new idea that leads to the next Amazon, or Tesla, or a way to end homelessness.
Build a “yes and” culture. Start with yourself. And enjoy the wonderful results.