The Yes Man. Mocked throughout the cubicles. “Don’t be a yes man.” is used in contexts other than the office to try to instill in people a sense of pushing back, going against the grain, standing up for their own opinions.
Here’s the rub: We live in a world of No. Does anyone really have any trouble saying no? Sure you might not say no to your boss, but you spend the whole rest of the day telling everyone else why the answer is ‘No, that will never work.” It’s many kids first words. Sometimes they say no and don’t even know why. Five minutes before they said yes to strawberries and now its a big fat no, for almost no reason at all. And I think the last part is so important- for almost no reason at all.
A part of psychology is realizing that you are not, necessarily, your thoughts. Sometimes we just think things because our brains are constantly going. This mechanism, when repeated habitually, changes our brains to make them act differently. There’s no rational reason for those thoughts to be there but if they are left there…again, and again… they cause us damage. And the danger is that it ends up becoming who we are without us realizing it. We rationalize the thoughts. We find support. We find other people who think the same and they increase. This negative thinking, decided by a million tiny steps, becomes our character.
Obviously there’s specific questions that need more than just this advice but here it is : Get better at saying yes. Maybe that shitty idea your boss had would actually work if he had a room full of employees who said yes and went about trying to make it work regardless, instead of a room full of no’s. “Maybe we should try this pickup” No. Nothing happens. “Maybe we should apply for this job?” No. Nothing happens. Yes is the only answer that affects change. Something inside you might be saying “Well, it may not be a good change.” That’s a no! Why? Did you try it? How will know for sure? Do you have any experience in doing the thing you are saying no to? Of course it may not work out. It doesn’t even need to be said because you can always try something else. No is poisonous. The whole world says no to you. Friends and family say no, because they don’t want you to do something that will go wrong for you or them. You say no to yourself. Maybe you’re saying no to your own idea ‘That would never work, ‘ “They would never hire me,” etc. WHY?! That’s the worst kind of hypothetical. You can’t tell the future, you’re not the HR person. How can we possibly think those thoughts are credible?
The real work is figuring out how to make things happen. It’s no surprise that’s also where the courage lies. As does progress, and opportunity. Why is standing up for yourself always about saying No? Maybe we should focus more on standing up TO yourself and saying yes.