Sticky Notes of Thoughts

…because some thoughts are worth remembering

On Saying (and Meaning) Yes


I learned that one of the most effective techniques for negotiations is to open with items people can agree on to get a momentum of “yes” going first. Done well, this technique doesn’t have to seem manipulative or gimmicky. Establishing and reaffirming each others’ goals or making sure you understood the other person’s view by asking “So, is my understanding correct that…?” can be quite helpful in any conversation.

Saying yes in negotiations and in conversations can have a positive effect as well. Even when someone else presents something you don’t quite agree with, you can first talk about what aspects of it you agree with. I noticed that in my experience, a room full of men tended to bring up the differences up front and emphasize them more than a room full of women, when I knew there are people within both groups that had different view points. I notice myself doing switching gears depending on what kind of group we are in to use the most expected order of bringing up agreements and disagreements. Then I found out that in general, it’s more powerful in the long term to find the common grounds by saying yes first. Instead of saying you can’t do something, it helps your own frame of mind to be open to more possibilities to force yourself to start the sentence with “yes” (and hopefully not follow the sentence with “but” because you can’t trust any clauses that precede “but”, as I mentioned before). “Yes, I can do it, if the deadline can be postponed for another week,” is more collaborative and open to other possibilities than “No, I can’t.” Who knows, maybe something else can change to make that happen.

I appreciate it when others have this approach, because it is usually a good indicator that they share your vision and are a team player.

Beware, however, of the empty yeses: as Samuel Goldwyn famously said,

I don’t want any yes-men around me. I want everyone to tell me the truth even if it costs them their job.

I used the quote for the longest time for my signature file, until I became a boss, at which point it sounded insensitive from an HR perspective, even though it was more relevant than ever.

Photo: Lyon, France

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2015 by in Management, Quote and tagged , , , .
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