Merge's Blog

Yea-sayer or nay-sayer – what’s your tendency?

Thumbs UpThere are some people who look for problems, and some who look for solutions.  I call the former nay-sayers, and the latter yea-sayers.  Which one are you?  Before you answer, let me explain.

In the workplace, each one of us routinely encounters problems – a product or process isn’t working quite the way it should, or no longer meets the stated need, a new initiative requires a different way of thinking or of doing things, or you’re trying to accomplish a stretch goal.  Whatever the situation, we often have to count on others for information, assistance or know-how.  So we pose the problem, often in the form of a question.  Some people immediately respond with “it can’t be done”, frequently followed by nothing … that’s right, end of discussion, no further conversation.  These are nay-sayers.  Yea-sayers on the other hand respond to the identical situation with some version of “let’s think about how we can make it happen.”  And this difference in attitude is enormous – not just in terms of the eventual outcome, but also in terms of the working relationship.

Who would you much rather work with?

Think about it – who would you much rather work with?  The person whose going-in position is “no”, can’t be done, here are all the problems with taking this approach?  Or the yea-sayer person who focuses on what could work, what is possible, and what needs to be changed or altered in expectations or outcomes in order to make it happen?

Now some of this comes from whether you are naturally a pessimist or an optimist.  Pessimists, natural nay-sayers, automatically think about everything that could go wrong.  Optimists on the other hand, by definition, inevitably focus on the rosy possibilities.  And sure, optimism without any consideration of reality is a bad thing.  But in the balance, it’s been my experience that yea-sayers have much more successful working relationships than nay-sayers.

What’s been your experience?  Please share by adding your comments below.

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