founder of naked leader

Playing the Yes No Game

Time to Read – 3 minutes and 30 seconds

I love chilli…it’s my favourite. “Can we have chilli tonight?”  – “No.”

Today, whenever you find yourself saying No, say Yes!

Sounds mad?

Change the way you say No and you will have more co-operation, form more trusted relationships, and sometimes it will turn to Yes.

Sometimes we say NO just to prove we can, or because we don’t like the person, or because there’s a good reason!

When you are about to say No ask yourself the real reasons, and whether you can switch it to a “Yes”

“Can we get the system in early?”  “No (because we‘re already fully working flat out)”


“YES we can if we get a contractor who is familiar with … who can start next Monday.” (Well, it might be possible!)

“Can we watch England play in the World cup in the office?’ ‘No (we’ll lose 2 hours work)”


“Yes if you make up the time and keep your work up to date.”

Ask yourself why you are saying No… you will have a good reason I’m sure. Once you know this reason, ask yourself, does that reason itself stop you saying “Yes?”

This especially applies to your children – in their lifetime they hear the word “No” 400 times more than they hear the word “Yes.” Of course children need to know where they stand, and by saying “Yes” as often as “No” they will know exactly where they stand, as opposed to always being told where they will fall.

“Mummy, can I take a photo?” “No (because we are about to get on the train)”


“Yes, of course you can, as soon as we have got on the train”

The purists in assertiveness may tell you that you have no need of either flowering up your refusal or explaining your reasons – that’s fine, if you have no need in your life to build relationships, help others or have a can-do attitude.

Now where was I?

Ah yes – “Can we have chilli tonight?”

“Yes! – if you go to the shops, get the ingredients, and cook it for us, I love chilli as well”

OK, then…

With my love and best wishes to you all


9 Responses to Playing the Yes No Game

  1. A conditional 'yes' is simply a 'no'. Transferring the action is also a 'no'. The chilli analogy is a good one. Yes chilli would be great, how can we make this happen – two positive thoughts. No?

  2. “Can we watch England play in the World cup in the office?’ ‘No…we want to spare you the pain and anguish!

  3. With children it is even more important to say yes a lot. No is such a prohibitive word. There are times when I am biting my lip to say something I don't want to but it comes out anyway.Saying yes is far more rewarding. Can I have a story daddy?'No, it's too late.'or'Yes, of course, I hope it helps you get to sleep soon.'

  4. David Time to read – <1 minute. Thanks for your email. As with the others I receive, I read it with interest. But this one was different. I had bit of an epiphany. Hence my response. In a former lifer as a 'management development trainer' I spent a lot of time studying and teaching communication skills and the building of relationships – including questioning skills and 'active listening'. While reading your email I found myself agreeing with your points – no surprises there. As I thought about how I apply it in my day-to-day life – both at work and at home – I realised that I can actually help the person I am asking the question to be able to say “yes” rather than “no” by changing the way I phrase the question. Rather than asking “Can I. . .” or “Can we. . .” I can ask “HOW can I. . .” or “HOW can we. . .” “HOW can we get the system in early?” – “We can get the system in early if we get a contractor who is familiar with … who can start next Monday.”Thanks for kicking off the thought processes – never really thought about it this way before – or maybe I have and have just forgotten (too long out of the classroom). I will bear this in mind from now on. Kind regards, Nigel

  5. Yes is a great word. No is a negative word by definition. So I agree that the yes word should be used far more. There must always be a way to do things, to get things right, to achieve.It's just a case of finding that formula. So yes, I agree, let's all say yes more often!

  6. There was an old song in the 1970s callled, “You Can Do It” by a group named Kool and the Gang.Now that was a cool expression in those days and the chorus was followed by “and you know that you can, there's nothing to it, just go ahead and do your thing”.I think that is the can-do attitude you are referring to and it's one I've adopted in life.What's the point of lookig at the glass half full angle. I can do it. I know I can, there's nothing to it. That's wht I know I will always achieve.

  7. I had an instance today when I was going to say no to someone and changed my mind and said yes.It was in response to a request for time off. A happier member of staff is a more productive one.

Leave a reply