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On Leadership: Leaders take 'yes, and' approach

The technique is an approach to help facilitate your opinion without damaging relationships and fostering better outcomes.

Young indian ceo having interview with African American manager hiring for job.
Young indian businessman ceo hr director having interview hiring for job with female African American attorney sitting in office at panoramic view window. Shot through jalousie glass.
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Effective communication is imperative for successful leadership. One challenge leaders have is to tactfully tell others you have a differing idea or opinion on a subject.

Pam Solberg-Tapper web.jpg
Pam Solberg-Tapper

The “yes, and” technique is an approach to help facilitate your opinion without damaging relationships and fostering better outcomes.

This is how it works. When someone says something that you do not totally agree with, simply respond with a “yes." Then, find something in what they said that you like about it — even if it is only a small part — and verbalize what you liked. Then say the word “and” and share your thoughts about the subject. Hence, you can build upon what was just said or you can take the conversation in a new direction.

Here is an example:

Your employee asks for a new piece of equipment that you didn’t have in your budget. Instead of saying “No, we can’t purchase it now," you can say "Yes, what I like about that idea is it could increase our efficiency, and at this time, it is not in the budget." In the meantime, what other options do we have to increase efficiency?

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Using “yes, and” in this manner affirms their idea, gives them an answer that is not a rejection, and opens up the conversation for alternative ideas which can make them feel validated.

Here are the benefits of “yes, and":

  1. People feel heard. By pointing out what you like about their idea, even if minimal, it shows them that you are open to what they had to say.
  2. It shifts the dynamic of the conversation. “Yes” is affirming and validating language even if you are not agreeing 100% with what they say. By adding “and," you are showing that you are willing to collaborate.
  3. It promotes solutions. A common communication response is “no, but,” which shuts down innovation. “Yes, and” can keep the creativity and collaboration flowing toward better solutions.

"Yes, and" is a powerful leadership communication approach because it augments listening, affirmation and collaboration which are three major attributes necessary for today's leadership success.
Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and adventure marathoner. For questions or to submit questions or ideas for future columns, contact her at  pam@coachforsuccess.com  or 218-729-0772.

Related Topics: WORKPLACEDULUTH
Pam Solberg-Tapper, president of Coach for Success Inc., is a Duluth-based executive coach, professional speaker and adventure marathoner.
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