Culture and Coaching

Building Sand Castles (Yes, and …)

January 2nd, 2018 | Posted by Elizabeth Walker in Career strategy

There are two magic words that, when waved just so, can transform destruction to construction. They are “Yes, and …”.  Use them in place of the oh-so-smart and realistic “Yes, but” and the world of possibility will open before you.

In an exchange of ideas “Yes, and …” builds on the idea and takes it to new places. Instead of discarding or retreating, it takes up and pushes further ahead. It expands and explores. It makes the idea better. And it’s not just the idea that gets better when you do this; the relationships get stronger too. You’re working together now instead of against each other.

Imagine a group of kids building a sand castle. One has a flash: “If we stretch it over this way, it will look like a rampart!”

Another sees clearly that the sand is too dry for that to work, “Yes, but it will collapse.” And with a nudge of his foot, he proves it. No one is happy and the dream of the sand castle is reduced, literally, to rubble.

What if he had said, “Yes, and if we dampen the sand with some water and use these sticks, we can make the wall even higher!”

Next time you are in conversation and hear yourself knocking down an idea with a  “Yes, but”, take note of the impact of those words. Do you feel like you “won” the exchange because you were realistic and smart and could see where the weaknesses were?  Did the idea wither and fade to nothing? Did you feel the sense of collaboration and possibility ebb out of the conversation?

Now try again with just one little change. Try “Yes, and”.

Feel the difference when you shift to building on rather than knocking down. Yes, you’re just as smart and realistic as you were earlier when you kicked over the sand castle, and now you’re on your way to having something beautiful to show for all those smarts.

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