The value of Yes! and the price of No!

John Lennon met Yoko Ono at a showing of her artwork in New York. He browsed and eventually came upon a magnifying glass, which was hanging from the ceiling. Below it, Ono had placed a painter’s ladder and Lennon climbed the ladder, took up the glass and held it to a tiny message written on the ceiling. The single word scribed there was “Yes.” Lennon said that it was that piece, with that specific word, that kindled his interest in Ono.

Ultimately saying “yes” is the foundation of all relationships. What is flirting but a way of saying, “Yes, I see you, and I like what I see.” Negotiation is finding the solution that meets all parties’ needs –that each side is willing to accept. The sales process consists of getting the customer to say “yes” to whatever it is you are selling.

There are subtler rewards for saying “yes,” too. Team members become sullen, demotivated, and uninspired very quickly when their ideas are consistently rejected, whereas, when their ideas are accepted, motivation increases. Individuals begin to feel more competent and a stronger sense of belonging when those around them accept their ideas.

Most people will buy into the concept that saying “yes” is valuable. We like our ideas to be accepted, at least to the extent that they receive consideration. Keith Johnson says;

“There are people who prefer to say ‘Yes,’ and there are people who prefer to say ‘No.’ Those who say ‘Yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say ‘No’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.” Often it may be that simple. Saying “no” feels safer. Less to do. Less to think about. Less to risk.

Yes! Principles

  • Saying “yes” is not being afraid of failure.
  • Say “yes, and…”: Accept offers and add to them.
  • Spontaneity is a way of saying “yes” to yourself
  • Saying “yes” is the bedrock of all relationships.
  • Optimism is the willingness to overcome obstacles and continue to say “yes”.
  • Motivate through acceptance.
  • Develops and sustains creativity.
  • Breeds innovation.
  • Saying ”yes” is the first step you take in trying something new.
  • Yes! is a verb. No! is a noun. Activity vs. passivity.
  • Yes! is more than just a word, it’s an attitude.

Why do we say no?

  • Saying “yes” requires action.
  • Someone else might get more credit than we.
  • Someone we don’t like is championing an idea.
  • Contradicting or debating is a way we have learned to feel smart.
  • The idea offered feels risky/silly/unoriginal.
  • There is a perceived or actual lack of resources.
  • We think the idea is “bad”.
  • We think the idea is impossible to operationalize.
  • We like our own idea better.
  • We don’t understand the idea.
  • We don’t recognize that en offer has been made.
  • Conflict is exciting.
  • Saying “no” is a well-developed habit.

There is a creative and liberating power in the word Yes. Where No shuts out and rejects, Yes opens up for  different interpretation and perspectives. By saying, Yes instead of “Yes but” dialogue and interaction is created rather than debate and bickering.

For us, Say Yes! does not mean we should all be compliant “yes-sayers. It is rather about taking a stand. If to say yes to opportunities, Yes to growth, Yes to succeed and even daring to fail. In Yes entrepreneurship and innovation is possible. In No dwells stagnation and cowardice. We say Yes to individual drive and Yes to performance!