Tag Archives: brainstorming

Learning to Say “Yes, But…”

I remember the conversation clear as day. I was working in my office at church when my pastor & our might as well have been staff volunteer walked in. “We have an idea!” they said with more than their usual excitement.

One sentence into sharing this idea my pastor stopped.

“Before I tell you what we’re thinking, I want to say this: I don’t need you tell me we can’t do it or why it’s not possible. I need you to figure out what we need to do to make it happen.”

Pretty sure my defenses went up & an argument followed. Looking back; however, I see the constructive criticism he was trying to give me: Filter before you give feedback. Stop being an idea squasher & instead figure out how to make ideas a reality. 

It wasn’t that he didn’t think I was creative or resourceful enough to make his vision come to life. Quite the opposite. But he needed me to believe in the vision enough to do the work to make it come to life. He needed me to be a solution finder not just a problem identifier. He was trying to help me see that I’d get a lot further in life if I learned how to say “yes, but…” rather than “no,” all of the time.

Apparently that lesson was an important one because it still sticks with me. That voice still plays in my head every time I’m asked to give feedback. And can I tell you, it makes a difference? “No” often raises defenses, “yes” on the other hand often raises respect. And saying yes is choosing to fight the problem as a team rather than fighting against the team about the problem. And I’d rather fight side by side with people than against them.

It’s taken me two & a half years & a lot of growth but I emailed that pastor, who I’m still honored to call a friend, the other night & thanked him. Thanked him for a lesson that 23 year old me may not have received or wanted but one that 26 year old me is deeply grateful for.

How do you respond when someone shares an idea with you?