May 25, 2018

Yes, But… The Power of the Conditional Conjunction to Create Clear Communication

The Power of the Conditional Conjunction to Create Clear Communication

Yes, And: For years I’ve been training the concept of “yes, and.” This is when we listen to someone, let them know we’ve heard and understood them, and then use the word “and” to build on their statement or request with our own thoughts and suggestions. We could be in agreement with with what they’ve said or our ideas may diverge…but “saying yes, and” diffuses defensiveness and indicates that we are adding as allies rather than opposing as adversaries.

No, But: The point of saying “yes, and” is to replace the oppositional “no, but” which triggers an aggressive or passive response if the person feels threatened or attacked. When we encounter “no, but” we generally hear the other person saying that we’re wrong and are likely to build up resistance to whatever statements follow to protect our image, ego, feelings or purpose. The interaction may downward spiral when “no, but” is inserted, conflict may ensue, and the relationship and results may suffer.

Yes, But: Just recently I learned about the power of “yes, but.” This is a contingent statement where we respond with the approval our colleague, client, customer, patient, student, friend or family member is often seeking. “But” we add this conditional conjunction to name the circumstances that our agreement rests on. “Yes, I can do this assignment, but that means the other two projects you wanted me to complete will get pushed back.” “Yes, I will present at your next board meeting, but you have to provide me with the data a week in advance.” “Yes, I can sell you this product at this cost, but I will need a signed contract that you’ll book your next event with us.” “Yes, I will prescribe this regiment, but you have to avoid alcohol and see me every week.” “Yes, you can have an extension on submitting this paper, but you have to deliver an oral presentation.” “Yes, I will set up that interview for you, but let’s meet over coffee to talk about your resume and experiences to make sure it’s a good fit first.” “Yes, you can go to the concert, but you need to show responsibility by being ready for school every morning at 7am.”

Fewer misunderstandings happen when our communication is clear and when we are explicit about our intentions and expectations. Much confusion and conflict can be averted by thinking about what we’re willing to say yes to and what our but depends on. The more succinct and focused our yes, but statements are, the greater chance we have of being on the same page to reach a mutually desired outcome. Give this tool a try and let me know how it works in your interactions.

Lee Broekman is a communication coach and trainer with a mission to make the world a better place, one communicator at a time. Her company Organic Communication works with high level leaders and trains decision makers in top organizations to communicate, collaborate and innovate naturally and effectively. Delivering programs in concentrated bursts, with high intensity and elevated engagement, Lee turns powerful content into actionable, applicable tools. Her recent book, Stop Blocking, Start Connecting: 8 Key Skills of Successful Communicators, is available on Amazon.