Easy to do? My own trial and error
I introduced this technique some months ago. To be honest, it was not easy. It is so easy to strike the ‘yes, BUT’-gavel. At het beginning I also found it quite artificial, like I was holding my brain back of being natural. On the other hand I observed nice results, and I still do J. By changing BUT into AND:
- I am automatically changing the construction of my sentence in a positive way. It was like my brain doesn’t allow me to use ‘hard/cold’ words combined with AND. Here is an example:
- You have a good rapport but you have to work harder if you want to …
- You have a good rapport and I think that by working a little bit harder you will …
- My message stays the same. I still can express my concern, challenge, …
- The receiver of my message is not overwhelmed. The conversation continues in a positive atmosphere
- It makes me aware that the price I have to pay for this form of dismissal (by using BUT) is to high
- I notice a change in the tone and the outcome of my conversation
Right now, it feels more natural and it is still a challenge. That word creeps into my conversation even when the discussion is trivial, even when I should be hyperaware of my word choices, even when it costs $.
And I allow/forgive myself if my ‘Yes, BUT’- gavel strikes again J.
Here are some exercises, as a support.
- Check how many time the BUT creeps into your daily life conversations
- Check how many time you, as a coach, use BUT during the coaching sessions
- Check how many times other people use BUT and what kind of feeling this word generates
- Ask friends to charge you money every time you use it J
- Listen to others' sentences and when you hear BUT change it in your own mind to AND
This exercise I found in ‘Training to Imagine’, Kat Koppett (2001).
Overview: Two groups set about the task of planning a company party. The first must start each sentence with the words, “Yes, BUT…” The second must start their sentences with the words, “Yes, AND …” Result: the first group will struggle to achieve anything. The second will create much more easily.
Time: 4-8 minutes
Number of players: Various
- Round 1
- Ask for 3-5 volunteers
- Tell the group that they are in charge of planning the company holiday party
- Each person must contribute one idea
- Anyone may start, and each successive idea must begin with the words “Yes, BUT …”
- Allow the exercise to continue for 2 – 3 minutes, or until it degenerates beyond repair.
- Round 2
- Ask for 3-5 new volunteers
- Set up the same activity with the following adjustment.
- This time each new sentence must start with the words, “Yes, AND …”
- Allow the activity to continue for 2 – 3 minutes or until the group seems satisfied and delighted.
Suggested Debrief Questions
- How does it feel to have your ideas rejected? Accepted?
- How did this experience compare to real life?
- Why do we block other people’s ideas?
- How can we increase our willingness and ability to accept ideas?
- Susan Scott, Fierce conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time (January 2004)
- Marshal Goldsmith, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (January 2007)
- John Adair, Effective Communication - The most important management skill of all (September 2009)
- Kat Koppett, Training to Imagine (2001)