I previously worked with a colleague, Donald, who was my favorite lunch buddy but at the same time, he was that “Yeah, But” type of employee and that made him the worst teammate that I ever worked with.
Donald was a terrible colleague because he was the “yeah, but” guy. Whenever the team was bouncing around ideas, Donald would sigh, and say, “Yeah, but here’s the problem with that…”
Or, “Yeah, but I don’t think that’s gonna work…”
Or, “Yeah, but that doesn’t sound right…”
We could count on Donald to throw a wet blanket on any spark of an idea. It got so bad, people finally stopped inviting him to meetings.
Now, I’m all for collaboration. More voices are usually better. And yes, opposing viewpoints help ensure an idea is a good one before real investments are made. Better that someone pokes a hole in your balloon while it’s still on the ground than after it’s launched.
The problem comes when all you do is poke holes in other people’s balloons. And never present a balloon of your own.
How to Constructively Disagree with Ideas and Still get your Point Across
If you want to get ahead, it’s not enough to simply point out what won’t work. Instead, you have to be willing to put your own ideas out there, subject yourself to the scrutiny of your peers and test your own theories to see if they hold water. The people who truly succeed in the workplace don’t simply identify problems, they build solutions.
Instead of saying “but,” successful people say, “AND.”
“Yeah, and maybe we could do it like this…”
“Yeah, and what if we tried this as well?”
“Yeah, and here’s how we can avoid potential issues with that…”
Truly successful people add to the possibilities, they don’t only subtract.