When my daughter was 13 years old I found I was saying “no” a lot, or offering a contrary point of view to hers.  “No” she couldn’t do something – or I didn’t think something was a good idea – or I had a better suggestion.  All of those “no’s” and negativity hit me one day.  I realized I was imposing a lot of restrictions on her, and likely limiting how much effort she was going to expend in trying out her own new ideas, and testing her own assumptions.  It was then I decided I was going to say “yes” as much as possible.  I made “yes” my default.  And I liked the results!

I’ve seen leaders who also have “no” as their default.  Employees suggest a new way of doing something, and rather than saying “sure, give it a try,” they shoot down the idea and respond with all of the reasons it won’t work.  Eventually employees give up.  They stop offering new ideas.  They stop making suggestions and instead, just show up and do the job they are told to do.  Ironically, leaders then complain that their employees aren’t engaged – not recognizing the connection between their actions and the reaction they are getting from their staff.

Think about these benefits of saying “yes” or “that’s an interesting idea.”

  • It builds relationships.
  • It inspires new ideas.
  • It promotes positive energy.
  • It advances someone’s skills into a new arena.
  • It encourages seeking out alternative solutions.

So before you say “no” the next time – or before you offer a response that might be seen as resistant – ask yourself, “what harm would there be in saying yes?”  “How can I offer a more encouraging response?”  I think you’ll see your team members’ levels of excitement and enthusiasm boost.

And just keep in mind – I took this risk with a 13 year old daughter!

Coaching Thoughts:

  • Over the next week – track how many times you say “no” or respond with a contrary opinion to someone on your team.
  • Write “YES” on a post it note and hang it from your computer monitor.
  • Which way does your leadership style naturally bend? (Do you remember your Everything DiSC style?)
  • Find something to agree with, and respond yes to each day!