In relationships, try to say “yes” more than you say “no”

When I’m with my grandson, Benjamin, I always try to say “yes” to his requests. “Papa, will you take me fishing? Will you play with me? Can we go swimming?” Unless it’s impossible or imprudent to do so, I usually say yes.

I do the same at work; when a colleague or direct report makes an appeal, I try to respond in a positive way. 

This approach has helped my marriage. For years, both Mary and I suffered from a “no-mentality.” She would ask me to do something and I would demur. I wouldn’t necessarily say “no” (I’m more cunning than that) but I would hesitate, postpone, ignore, or offer an alternative. In essence, I declined. Mary often did the same to me. Now we try to say “yes” to each other, or at least craft a positive response such as, “What an interesting idea; let’s talk about that tonight.” But if it’s a simple request (Would you clean your study?) I should simply comply.   

In your interpersonal relationships, which word do you tend to say the most: yes or no? What is your default response? I’m not suggesting that you be a “yes-person”—someone who agrees with everything that is said and endorses or supports without criticism, every opinion or proposal. I am encouraging us to have a positive, permissive outlook on life, particularly when responding to people’s requests. The alternative is to be oppositional, quick to resist or dissent.

Sir Richard Branson once said: “I have enjoyed life a lot more by saying yes than by saying no.” And I’m sure those around him have also enjoyed that persuasion. 

Here’s a good article from Fortune magazine titled “Five Reasons Why Saying “Yes” Is The Best Decision For Your Career.”

4 Replies to “In relationships, try to say “yes” more than you say “no””

  1. Don:
    I really enjoy your emails and look forward to them. I often forward them to family members and friends. Thank you for your good works and the inspiration they provide. Our recent cruise to Alaska with Inspiration Cruises was by far our best vacation. The music and programs were something Carole and I will never forget.

    1. Bill, thanks for kind and encouraging words. The trip to Alaska was, indeed, a memorable trip. I hope we can travel together some day. Don

  2. I’m a bit behind…. I am still pondering whether I am a positive or negative person. “Yes”, last week your mentioning striving for #4 should be our goal, but I’d like to proffer a #5: ~ I vacillate between both positive and negative attitudes in that it depends on the situation. My tendency is to OVERthink things to the point that I jump back and forth between both approaches.
    YES…I WILL work toward #4 and just say YES more!

    1. Pat, I’ve only been around you a few times but I think you are an optimist. I’m looking forward to our Travel with Friends trip together. Don

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