Yes, but…

Years ago one of my mentors taught me the power of sharing effective feedback how it carries over to almost all parts of our communication as a whole. I wasn’t convinced because it appeared to be just a small change — from “yes, but…” to “yes, and…”. That doesn’t sound like a lot, right? Precisely why I thought as much.

Over the years, I believe that simple shift has reaped benefits that far outweighs the initial discomfort I experienced. It has made my relationships with my closed ones much stronger and the ones with others much more meaningful. The switch has also made me a far more effective leader as people (including peers) see me as someone who ‘gets them’ and wants to add value. (How do I know? I’ve asked them!)

This last bit is super important because leaders (experienced or otherwise) don’t pay much attention to the choices of words while sharing feedback. Psychologically, “but” undos all the great things you’ve been talking about right before! It acts like a trigger that probably switches on people’s defences. And they forget about all the great things you really meant and zone into the not-so-great stuff they need to work on. I know, I’ve offended some to the extent that they’ve yelled at me for being so inconsiderate. And I thought I was just being helpful!

Getting conscious about my word choices has had a profound effect on my life. I highly encourage that you try it yourself. Yes, it may sound overwhelming but you don’t have to order a dictionary or something (not that there is one, I’ve looked for it) just start with “yes, and…” and see the magic unfold. You’ll be using “yes, and…” much more than you realise. As an effective manager/leader, feedback and opinion is what you share the most. You’re better off starting there and see how you can expand on the principles you see unfold.

If you’re wondering, “Sunil, this doesn’t sound like much. I get a lot done doing what I already do,” I would say, “yes, and you’re probably right… how hard would it be to give this a try for the next 5 days?”

Got it? Great! Now go out and practice!

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