Develop a “yes” approach to life

pessimist_1078789Each of us carries a word in our heart. For some of us the word is “yes.” Yes, we believe we can succeed. Yes, we can learn. Yes, we can make a difference. Others carry a “no,” with all the negative baggage that accompanies it. As leaders, we must realize which word we carry and how it enhances or inhibits our ability to lead. Martin Seligman

Do you know individuals whose default response in life always seems to be “no”? Regardless of the situation, their first impulse is negative. These people are difficult to be with; they exhaust me; I avoid them.

A typical conversation with these doomsayers may sound like this:

  • Can we have some friends over for dinner this weekend?  – No
  • Can we talk about taking a vacation this summer?  – No
  • Can you have the report done by Thursday?  – No
  • Can you help with the kids tomorrow?  – No

Compare and contrast these pessimistic, energy-sucking people with those who have a proclivity toward “yes.” Even when they need to decline, they have a positive way of saying “no.”

  • Can we have some friends over for dinner this weekend? That is a great idea. I’ve had an exhausting week; perhaps we could do it another time.
  • Can we talk about taking a vacation this summer? Sure, when would you like to talk?
  • Can you have the report done by Thursday? I’m having an unusually busy week. Will Friday be okay?
  • Can you help with the kids tomorrow? I know you must be exhausted having been with them all day today. I’d love to watch them in the morning; I’ve got an appointment in the afternoon that I can’t miss. Would it be helpful for me to watch them for the first part of the day?

Relative to this topic, there are two critical questions for you to answer:

  1. Which word do you carry in your heart: yes or no? You may not know the answer to this question. To get an accurate answer, ask several people who know you well and who will speak truth to you.
  2. How can we deal with “carriers of no”? If they are people that you can choose whether or not to be around, avoid them. If not, try to work around them; don’t let their negativity influence you. Like water running off a duck’s back, don’t let their statements find purchase in your life. Increasingly minimize the amount of control they have on your life. (Or, anonymously send them this post along with the message, “You REALLY need to read this.” But, they’re likely to say…)

Fortunately, your inclination toward either “no” or “yes” is a choice. It’s not imbedded in your DNA. It’s not a fixed trait. You can choose. If you’re deeply entrenched in the negative persuasion, choose to change. Behavioral modification is difficult but doable. It will take time. You’ll need the help of others. Start by saying “yes” to the challenge to change.

[reminder]What are your thoughts about this essay?[/reminder]

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6 Replies to “Develop a “yes” approach to life”

  1. As one raised by parents who always saw the glass as half empty, it took years for me to overcome that mindset. I still struggle some days. Thank you for this reminder of the value of choosing to keep a positive mindset, a good attitude. It can make or break a good day, a good job, a good relationship – a good future. The choice is mine.

    1. Thanks, Rhonda, for writing. It’s hard to overcome parental influence. But working with you every day, I can tell that you have. You’re a terrific person to be around. Don

  2. Right on, yet again! You can tell a “yes” person just by looking at his or her face–it’s open and smiling.

    1. Kendel, I believe you’re right; our inner attitude is evident in our countenance and aura. Thanks for writing. Don

  3. I would call myself a “Maybe” person. In my younger days, I said “Yes” to everything and became overwhelmed. I now try to buy myself time by saying that “I will get back to you.” Sometimes you have to give up one thing, in order to do another.

    There is no excuse for the blank “No”. It’s almost a word to sum up “Don’t bother me.”

    However, I learnt that it is better to give the other person a way out. My favourite phrase when asking for volunteers for a project is, “I would rather have an honest “No” than a reticent “Yes”. People who are only half hearted about a project don’t make a good contribution. It can be easy to just fill your quota of volunteers by making them feel guilty but it can destroy the relationship and jeopardise your chance of being able to ask them to take part on another occasion. Leaders encourage, enable and empower, bullies just put pressure on others to do their will.

    1. Angela, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I like your phrase “I would rather have an honest ‘no’ than a reticent ‘yes’.” I’ll use that one. My wife says I say “yes” to freely and frequently, so I do need to work on that. The essence of my essay encourages to have a “yes” attitude even when we need to say “no.” Kind regards, Don

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