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…” ?
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