Accepting an opportunity saying “YES” is a good chance to raise our personal and professional growth.

However, people usually approach their way to say “YES” in two main different categories, below summarized:

1.      YES, BUT…. People – “I would, but I can’t… and, actually, I don’t want”

2.      YES AND…. People – “I want, I can, I do it”

We can define the “Yes, but… people” as “hidden saboteurs”. Their favorite sport is introducing obstacles. They are keen on making up excuses, sometimes refusing to share their own thoughts.

In a group, they could destroy the solutions of other team members. They generally are pessimistic and when you try to challenge them asking their ideas, they usually feel diffidence and the common answer is: “I don’t know”.

Have you ever known a “yes, but..” person?

I actually had such experience, more than once! I remember a case where I was trying with all my energy to move a business conversation with a colleague forward but all my efforts were useless. The situation was completely stuck and I felt so frustrated about it! I tried everything: asking her solutions, involving her in the decision making process, proposing my own solutions, asking for external advice and moving to other issues. Nothing doing. The only thing I got was “Yes, but…”.

Eventually, I realized she was resistant on doing anything new or different and she was simply refusing to move anywhere.

How could I fight against a “hidden NO”? I couldn’t.

As Toba Beta, an Indonesian writer, said “Human willingness to believe in doing something precedes their ability to think”.

At the contrary, the “Yes and… people” are those who focus on building something. They have a constructive thinking and they are used to providing their best contribution. The communication with them is easy, smoothly and meaningful. They face potential obstacles looking for a possible solution. Furthermore, if they disagree about a topic, they simply explain their opinion and reasons why.

I’m lucky because I have had the chance to work with many of them. They contributed to generate a positive business environment, where the next step forward is the best one, because it means we are growing, as individuals and as a team. Having “yes and… people” in a company is strategic because they enhance the company itself. They could leverage new perspectives, innovation and lateral thinking. Facing challenges with them is a pleasure and not a burden.

People having this kind of attitude are generally successful due to their belief in a good outcome and because they work for that.

As Michael Jordan said: “Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Saying “yes, but” or “yes and” is a personal choice. On which side are you on?


Enza Artino,
International Service Manager c/o Wyser; Coaching Competence Center Manager c/o Gi Group