It’s easy to say no. If two kids are making up a scene where one says, “I’ve just won £1 Million in the lottery.” The chances are the other will say, “No you haven’t!”
It’s because by saying no you control the conversation. The problem of course is that by saying no you are denying the idea, so you kill it off. Or you have an argument that goes on forever about whether you have or have not won the lottery – which is boring. But think what would happen if the answer was, “Wow, when did you find out?” Not only have they accepted the story – but they’ve also added to it by asking another question which will get a more interesting response than “Oh yes I did!”
What we learn from this is that when you are open-minded and don’t try to control what is happening and you allow yourself to step into unknown territory – you find unexpected and interesting things along the way.
You find the same in life when some people constantly close conversations while others open them up by encouraging and being interested. We all know people who don’t really listen – they are just waiting for you to stop so they can carry on. But it’s not fun not being really listened to.
Years ago, I was working on an international project and every evening four of us would sit around and plan the next day. One guy from Sweden always said yes to ideas and always tried to see possibilities in what was being offered. It had a wonderful effect as it encouraged you to offer up more and more ideas. Meanwhile, the ideas that were half-baked or not properly thought through fell off the edge and were forgotten. No one felt judged or worried about putting forward an idea because anything was possible.
We do seem to be living in a very judgmental world that only wants to listen to what it already thinks. I think it’s important to grow up saying yes to ideas in this way. If you learn to be an enabler rather than a contradictor, I think we would have more creative workplaces and ideas would be shared more freely. Who knows where it would end? Yes, it takes time to hear peoples’ opinions and not all of them will work but when you are genuinely interested in what others have to say it can be transformational. Suddenly people who aren’t usually heard speak their minds and what they say is valued. And it begins with saying yes in your head. So, if someone tells you they have won the lottery just say yes and see where it goes!