Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yes, and...

We were having one of those great Saturday mornings around the breakfast table -- planning out our day. I had to get some items done for my local Boys & Girls Club, my husband was considering popping into a regional meeting of one of the fraternal organizations he's a member of, and my son wanted to invite a friend over to play video games. We would get all of these things done and also support said Boys & Girls Club by attending the fundraising carnival.

And of course, being a mom, I had to remind my son what is and is not "good host behavior" -- "It's not fun watching a person play a video game. Mommy and Daddy do it because we love you, not because it's fun. When your friend comes over you have to play a video game that you both can play." And I had to remind him of his obligations to the family and the household -- in other words -- chores.

Kitchen Table Lessons

In our house, the kitchen table is often the scene of some life lesson. Although, by now my son gets that Mommy is not going to let him get away with feeling sorry for himself when he doesn't get his way or has to do some household chore, he still sometimes forgets himself. When he does, many a meal around the kitchen table has included a life lesson on being grateful for the things you have and realizing that sometimes you have to "do what you have to do before you can do what you want to do".

My son has inherited an Owens Family tradition of imparting wisdom -- lecturing -- upon the next generation. I can remember getting an earful from my parents on more than one occasion -- some lasting more than an hour if I had really transgressed. This one for my son was merciful, it was only about three minutes. It was a response to his all too familiar reaction of, "Yes, but..." when I told him something he didn't want to hear. On this particular morning, the life lesson was the power of "and" verses "but".

"Yes, but..."

How often do you find yourself saying, "Yes, but..." when in a discussion with a family member or colleague? It usually is the response of, "I have to begrudgingly agree with you because you either have a point I don't like or you are in a position of authority over me, however, I'm still going to take this opportunity to focus on the negative and tell you how you are wrong and I am not happy."

Such was the case with my son. I can't even remember exactly what he was trying to disagree with, however I do remember my response. I cut him off just after the "but" and asked him to in stead of saying "Yes, but..." try saying, "Yes, and..." followed by something positive. When he hesitated I gave a multitude of things he had in his life to be thankful for.

Poor thing, he had the misfortune of having a mother who had just watched Slumdog Millionaire last night. My speech was reminiscent of those lectures your parents gave you about starving children in China (or African) when you were a child and they wanted you to clean your plate. I even went so far as evoking the scene with the wooden outhouse and reminding him that he had not one, not two but three toilets in his home. I know it was a bit much, but I was on a roll.

"Yes, and..."

Think about what usually comes after a "but" verses what comes after an "and". "But" is usually followed by negativity, contradiction, disappointment and dissatisfaction. "I'd like to give you a raise, but..." "We are seeing gains in the economy, but..." "I think your new marketing plan is great, but..." In the case of my son, his but's were usually a commentary on how I was -- albeit temporarily -- ruining his life.

Now think about what usually comes after an "and". "And" is usually followed by positivity, abundance, agreement and augmentation. Say those same statements above, now using "and". "I'd like to give you a raise, and..." "We are seeing gains in the economy, and..." "I think your new marketing plan is great, and..." Feel the difference?

Didn't you feel like after the "and" there was a possibility for something more?...something positive? Could it be a raise and a promotion? Will it be gains in the economy and more jobs creation? Does the boss like your marketing plan and he's going to allocate the budget to implement it?

Positive Attitude

So when you are on the receiving end of an "and" you see how it makes you feel right? Now think about when you are the sender of the communication. In relationships and as part of a team, do you build up (Yes, and...) or tear down (Yes, but...)?

We need to find ways of bringing more positivity and an attitude of abundance into our responsive communication with others. When you are presented with a task or challenge, instead of immediately going to how it won't work or won't be fun, try focusing on how it can work (even if with modifications) and will be enjoyable.

Which one are you?

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? Do you more often respond with "Yes, and.." or "Yes, but.."?

If you are a "Yes, but.." person, I dare you to try for a day not saying "Yes, but..." and replace it with "Yes, and..." . This would be especially great on a day when you would be part of some brainstorming or planning activities.

All too often, our creativity and innovation gets stifled by others immediately telling us why something won't work instead of focusing on how is can work. "Yes, and..." is the language of possibilities. Try it and see how many new possibilities you discover.

No comments:

Post a Comment