It’s about what we say no to

Posted by  Andrew Rixon —June 7, 2006
Filed in Anecdotes

My first blog post ever was around the improv principle of “Say Yes”. I suggested that:

“…it is often when we “Say Yes” that we find ourselves in the most interesting, unexplored and uncharted territory”.

There seems to be real tension between “saying no” and saying “yes and…”. Take for instance:

Jane, a young consultant had been working for 9 months in a new position in a consulting organisation. She had been working on developing her networks, leads and contacts. With the consulting firm gauging the success of consultants by the number of proposals they submit, Jane was focussing her efforts on delivering quality consulting proposals. One day, out of the blue, a client she had spent some time generating a relationship with contacted her, interested in a proposal for what Jane also considered an interesting and relevant piece of work. Thinking about how she might deliver quality, Jane decided she would go to one of the well respected senior leaders of the organisation and get his opinion. Jane reasoned that Dick, the senior leader, would surely have some good input for this proposal not to mention giving her a potential opportunity to have Dick as a mentor in the future. Early the next day, Jane met with Dick and explained the context and her thinking around the project proposal. To Jane’s surprise, Dicks response wasn’t “yes, and…” it was “are we doing this to make money or just for something to do?”. While Jane was trying to digest the first statement, Dick warmly added “it’s about what we say no to”.

How do we balance the common sensical and maybe disempowering “no” or “yes but…” with the enabling and more empowering response of “yes and…” ?

About  Andrew Rixon


  1. We look in the mirror and remember that its not about us — its about that pursuit of greed. money, things … about keeping score bout being one up on the other guy about being “the man” … and then we remember that we are not the man YET and may never be. So if yes and can help get us through another day with a twinkle in our eyes at the idea of possibilities great if not and we have agen to the point where all that matters is things well no sounds awfully good unless it is directed our way. Take a good drink of pomegranite juice and deoxidize.

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