How many people in your lives do you know who seem to enjoy saying no. Like for some reason denying you your request is a power play, a complete and total display of their personal power. They often have the off shoot of OR as well, they bargain, I can give you that OR I can give you this usually significantly lesser thing. I am on team yes and and, and work hard to stay energized around the no and or team.
My whole life the no and or people have brought out my sympathy. For a very long time I couldn’t articulate why. Then one day my oldest daughter asked me why we couldn’t buy something she wanted at the grocery store, it isn’t on the list didn’t work that day. It was one of those kids yogurts that is like 90% sugar and artificial colors. I straight up said no, it isn’t on the list and most likely made a scrunchy nosed face as I said it. She asked why, and I paused for a long moment and said because I think we can make it much more healthful at home and have some fun with it.
We went home and looked up a recipe–this was before smart phones. We made an adventure out of making the yogurt and she was supremely happy, this became a staple in her life for quite a few years. It was an amazing feeling to be able to do something for her, with her, that satisfied both of our wants and needs completely.
Maybe that is why I have sympathy for the NO power players, because maybe they don’t know the feeling of saying yes and making it happen. Maybe they don’t know how to discern between a will-he-nil-he way of saying yes and the informed way of saying no or the reverse, an informed yes and the will-he-nil-he way of saying no.
Another day my youngest daughter asked if she could go to a friends house on a day where we had a lot going on that afternoon and evening. My knee jerk reaction was no, we have a lot going on, instead I said yes AND be back by a specific time so that we can do the other tasks as well later. It worked out nicely, we completed a few more tasks at home without the kids under foot a bit more efficiently. I have often viewed this as time management, a skill the girls need so that they will get the most out of life. Today, my energy is still not back to where it was pre cancer, so time management is very important and the ANDs become even more valuable.
The huge AND in my life right now is having energy for work and coming home and having energy for my family. There are days at work that drain my energy completely. I am sure you know the days where you don’t sit down at home because you know you are going to fall asleep. I have not mastered a nap AND an activity on a work day, if you have please share! There are other days at work that fuel my evening beautifully, those are the days when I get a couple of ANDs in!
I started really paying attention to my work days and what it is that drains versus fills the tank. Then I amended my sympathy, perhaps the NO and OR power players don’t have a lot of tank filling days. In that moment I realized my elevator speech for what I do in a work day. In my role in continuous improvement I help people have better days at work through teaching, modeling and coaching continuous improvement tools and methodology in an uplifting way. Days when I get to do that and when I get to experience a lightbulb moment with someone are the tank filling days. Days where I don’t, well, the tank empties. The same is true at home, days where I get to experience a lightbulb moment with the kids, or when they apply something in a new and exciting way and I get to learn, oh man, those are the days where the tank, or cup, runneth over.
I don’t respond yes or no to indiscriminately, especially now. When I want to knee jerk either response, I ask what getting what they want will that do for the person asking. Out loud, I ask the person directly and out loud-not in my head-because I have found the better dialog the better the results. I keep going with the next question of what do they get out of it. Often times the discussion turns my knee jerk no into a very different yes that is satisfactory or better to all parties. Or it stays a no, but we discuss why it is a no and discuss other options when appropriate. That happens with a yes as well. It is easy to do at home, less so in the work place, and even less so with the medical professionals in my life, but when it happens, no matter where it happens, YES and AND is a beautiful thing.
I am still trying to figure out where my sympathy comes from the NO power player. Maybe they haven’t experienced the feeling of saying yes and making it happen, maybe they don’t know what the real goal is because they don’t know how to have an effective dialog, maybe they aren’t effectively managing their time and haven’t experienced a satisfying AND, maybe its all of those things and they don’t know where to start. If you have a knee jerk no power player in your life, try putting together a statement that incorporates all of the above making the AND a win for them. Don’t make it a yes or no question–make it a when style question. Make it a when would you like me to start solving this problem for you this specific way AND you get to have more time to do the thing you want/like/need to do. It doesn’t always work, but it usually results in a much better dialog and you have increased the opportunities to experience a YES and an AND with that person.