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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Yes, No, and Y-Boy

I have noticed that there seem to be two types of people in the world: the people who say yes, and the people who say no. Now, we all say one or the other word at times, but my observation is that we naturally have a leaning toward one perspective or the other. Let me give you examples.

The "yes" people welcome your coming to them to solve problems. They are open to consider new ideas and solutions, and they welcome discussion. For example, when I recently had space problems fitting my chair in the orchestra venue in a way that would be comfortable for everyone, including me, and in a way that would accommodate everyone else's space needs, I knew that I could go to our stage manager with the issue. He would not rebuff me but would gladly spend a few moments discussing the issue with me and coming up with possible solutions. He is a "yes" type of person. I visit other "yes" people when I want to bounce around new ideas or revisit old ones that have lost their efficacy. You would know a "yes" person as someone who might use the expressions: "Get 'er done," or the Nike slogan "Just do it."

The people who tend toward the "no" perspective seem to have an invisible shield around them that prevents others from imposing on their time and attention. When I encounter such an individual, I sense an invisible hand held up before him or her, which wards off my asking any questions or trying to involve him or her in any way. For example, if I were to have a special need or request to help me do some aspect of my job better, I would hope that the person I ask for help would be willing to entertain my question or consider a better alternative. When I must make this special request of a "no" person, I do not walk away with a satisfactory answer. To be fair, "no" people may have developed this way as a protective mechanism because of undue or unreasonable demands by others in the workplace. Still, I have observed that "no" people tend to be "no" people most of the time, whether the workplace created that style in the person or not. In other words, "no" people seem to perpetuate the "no" persona even outside of work.

I strive to be a "yes" person. Although I may be tempted to slip into the "no" side on occasion, I still prefer to follow the "yes" style and surround myself with other "yes" people. I tend to avoid "no" people to the best of my ability, because I do not sense a productive energy when I am in the company of "no" people. I find it easier to associate with "yes" people for most of my time, because I feel that together we create more solutions and resolve more problems in productive ways. The atmosphere in the company of a "yes" person seems lighter and happier as well.

I tend to analyze things in black-white fashion. I find it easier to begin looking at problems by first looking at what something is and then looking at the opposite. I start from this position so that I have at the very least defined the outline of the issue. Then I fill in the gray areas. Up until this week though, I have merely considered the "yes" and the "no" types of people. Then I learned about the "Y-Boys"from a work colleague.

I had not heard this expression before, so I asked my coworker about it. My colleague shared my same opinion about "yes" and "no" people, but my colleague told me that there were other people who pretended to be "yes" people but who in fact were not. He called them "Y-Boys," because these people would answer any request with a "yes, but" and then string a series of conditions that had to be met before they would participate in the project. Rather than say "yes" and then work things out in a favorable way, Y-Boys would say "yes" but then put all sorts of limitations on projects. The result of a Y-Boy encounter is that the other person often walks away with an answer that is in effect a "no," but since the answer was disguised as a yes but came saddled with limitations, others walk away with the confused impression that the Y-Boy is a "yes" person when in fact he or she is not.

Which one are you? Maybe you are bits and pieces of each of these three types of persons. Maybe you had not realized that you were a "no" person or even a Y-Boy. This is a good question to consider this week. Yes? No? Yes, but . . . . .

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