How we position ourselves in conversations can have an impact on how we are able to move the conversation along. A few years back my company was designing a website for a local insurance company. The daughter of the owner, Samantha had joined the firm and was helping us get the site functional. My Graphic Designer, Dan was reviewing site designs with her. Samantha had gone to school for graphic design. She was helping her father out with the business but art was her passion. As the conversation was going along, she started to describe her vision for how she saw things. Dan the Designer, an eager young lad, dying to show his worth said to her, “No, No that’s all wrong. We need to do it like this.” In his defense he was right. But as he said this, I could see Samantha shrink in her chair. Her ideas had been negated and undervalued. She disengaged and stopped giving any feedback.
Upon noticing this I spoke up and said let’s not be too quick to throw out her ideas. There were some really good ideas we could build off of. I could see the confused look on Dan’s face but Samantha had re-engaged herself in the conversation. In the next 30 minutes, we worked to morph her idea into what our Designer had proposed from the start. In the end, it was even better. With Samantha back in the conversation, we built off of Dan’s idea and Samantha had a feeling of ownership in the design process.
After the meeting, I took Dan aside and asked him if he noticed what had happened in the meeting? He said he was surprised that I spoke up because he felt Samantha’s work was all wrong. I told Dan I was no genius but I could read body language when it is blaring at me that Samantha had been hurt. All Dan needed to do was instead of saying No was to say Yes. He could have turned his feedback into “Yes, Yes I see what you are thinking. Now, what if we add this?” This would have Samantha feeling valued and a part-owner in the design. We got there eventually and Dan added the power of Yes to his design process and became a better designer for it.
The Yes does not need to be pandering. It just needs to be inclusive. Value people’s input by building off their ideas. In the land of Improvisation, there is the concept of “Yes, and.” We are stronger together when we encourage others and build off each other’s ideas. It works in comedy, it works in design it works in business. The power of Yes can work in every aspect of our lives. Try it yourself. The next time you are in a conversation with someone you don’t agree with instead of arguing from the start say “Yes I see what you are saying now let me add my thoughts to that,” Yes, and…