- Wise Words -
Getting You To Yes
by ari rosenberg
When you think about you at work, what’s your goal?
Being the best version of yourself every day each week all year is the goal, I recommend we should all have. That said, putting your best self in a cubicle every day each week year after year sounds impossible so I want to give you an idea of how to get there.
It is by saying yes and meaning it that we can consistently be our best selves.
Saying No to No
To move to “yes” we need to do some re-engineering of our mental muscles’ reflex away from wanting to say “no” to reasonable requests from the boss. (Note: here I am talking about reasonable requests and not those that are unethical, against company policy, selling ourselves out or anything like that.)
Ever notice when you said “no” to reasonable requests from your parents growing up, your insides tightened and you began to second-guess yourself? When they asked us to clean our rooms, we said no to show our strength but felt weaker inside and we denied ourselves the positive experience of a clean room. When our parents told us to be home by 11 p.m. and we were still out past midnight, we acted courageous but felt fear inside.
Bosses subconsciously appear parental inviting that old feeling of disobedience.
We instinctively think of reasons why we should say “no” to reasonable requests made by our bosses. We of course say yes most if not all of the time, but the difference between feigning yes versus authentically meaning it registers and reflects back on your value.
Changing this reflex from wanting to say no to really meaning yes is key to a monster career. Here’s how to get you to yes and then I’ll finish with why.
But first, an often-ignored open secret is that when your boss asks you to do something they are not really asking. Own that and no is no longer an option. Saying yes and meaning it reads simple but is much harder to do because your no muscle is so much stronger than your yes one.
So you have to trick your muscle memory.
When your boss asks you for something, instead of thinking through the reasons you want to say no, take yourself out of the equation. Instead, immediately ask yourself why is your boss asking you to do this? What outcome are they looking for and how does it make them look better? You are now removed from the calculus and disconnected from any subconscious emotions to rebel.
With the worst you now out of the way, yes becomes a reflex.
Every “yes” should then be followed by a request for a specific deadline if one is not given. This gives you that feeling of control you emotionally covet and a specific deadline helps make it obvious you met it.
Once yes has been said emphatically and a deadline determined, ask your boss for their format preference (if applicable) so when your part is done they don’t spend time editing your chapter to the book they are presenting to their boss.
Let’s dive into an example.
Your boss asks you to replace the toilet paper in the bathrooms.
Ignore the immediate text from your cerebrum that reads “WTF” and instead ask yourself why is she asking me to do this and how will she look better when its done? This request (as extreme as it is meant) immediately feels emotionally lighter by taking this approach.
Now reply “yes no problem” followed by “when would you like these new rolls in place and do you prefer the paper start over-the-top or down below?”
Yes to Opportunity
So why should we fight our instincts to push back and bury our intellectual abilities to challenge our boss on most things? Because this is about doing what is best for you not them. Every sincere yes, followed by a deadline met and a format matched, increases your value in their eyes and makes you feel better. A better feeling you is a better version of you.
This doesn’t mean the feeling of wanting to quit your job ten times a month goes away. But when that feeling becomes too big to ignore, you now have greater options then just complaining to your boss. That never produces a good outcome. It’s like sending your meal back to the chef.
Besides, your boss thinks you’re amazing. Your saying yes to everything they ask, you meet deadlines and you fit formats. You are however, also very attractive to your next employer if you were to seek one out.
Every three years or so, test your own value. Go out there and earn yourself a job offer somewhere else. Now you can find out how much value you have created by saying and meaning yes. Chances are very good your boss and their boss won’t let an employee like you leave and then you can decide if they have made it worth staying.
Yes, that’s right you win either way.
Related Columns: "Manage Up to Move Up", "Manager As Partner", "Questions for Your New Manager", "Secret Skills to Managing Up"
Ari Rosenberg is a media dinosaur dressed digital clothing. He started his media career buying print ads for Young & Rubicam in 1988 and then moved on to sell them for Newsweek and then Tennis Magazine before joining Snowball.com (which morphed into IGN) in 1999. He is currently the founder of IPC Pricing. If you want to learn about IPC or just say hello please do so – Ari@ipcpricing.com