We All Need That “Yeah, But” Person

“Yeah, But…” You know the person I’m talking about. Everything you say gets a response starting with, “Yeah, but…

  • that’s not gonna work…
  • we’ve never done it that way before…
  • we’ve always done it this way…
  • that’s dumb. Here’s the smarter idea…

They’re never satisfied with what you say. They rarely have ideas and when they do, it’s the best thing since sliced bread (to them anyway). And you better not say “Yeah, but…” to them…or else!

Though I’m more of a “Yes, and…” person, I need the right “Yeah, but…” person to challenge my ideas. I say the right person because they think more critically versus emotionally or re-actively. They are someone who can listen intently, consider multiple angles, is smarter than me and asks questions (sometimes many questions) to ensure I’ve considered all options. If I get to a point where I can’t answer their questions, I ask for their honest input. They then give me constructive feedback.

Let me give you an example of my most trusted confidant; my wife. She’s challenged a lot of my ideas and saved me from a few bad ones (probably more than a few). The conversation usually starts with me saying, “So, I have this idea…” She politely listens and when I’m done, considers what I said before responding. “Yeah, but [insert question here]?” I think about it and respond. Then she challenges again, and again, until either I’ve answered all questions, or at times, realized I probably shouldn’t do what I was thinking about.

For example, her questioning talked me out of driving 8 hours to do a half ironman (70.3 miles!). So instead, I’m running a 50 mile trail race, which also came with a long list of “Yeah, buts…”, including getting eaten by a bear (this is northern MN we’re talking about!).

The same goes for work. Find that critical thinker who’s not afraid to ask questions. They say “Yeah, but…” until you’ve proven out your idea. Remember, they’re not doing it to be mean or spiteful (OK, some are, but the person you’ve found isn’t). They’re doing it to challenge you; to ensure you’ve thought of all angels and make your good idea a potential great one!

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