An Answer to a Question is More Than “Yes” or “No”

In groups, people often approach suggestions as if the response needs to be a “yes” or a “no”.  Alright, we know that “maybe” is also an option but that’s really a show stopper without more conversation.  I’m wondering if now more than ever, the problem is that people are so stressed for time that the uncertainty involved in anything other than “yes” or “no” is unbearable.  I can imagine people sitting in meetings with their inner voice saying, ” Please no, we can’t spend more time on this.  Just decide!”

What if the assumption in meetings was that suggestions could not be responded to with a “yes” or “no” without a minimum of 3 minutes of discussion?  With your group, you could create an agreement that anyone who felt an immediate “no” response would ask questions to find out more about the idea and to allay their particular fears.  Anyone whose immediate response is “yes” would be obliged to say the advantages they see to that suggestion.  That way, more data would be put on the table and the group might learn to de-personalize the yes or no responses.  Ideally, someone would facilitate the conversation and maybe even flipchart people’s comments in a plus/delta format.   The plus side of the flipchart for what’s working or what’s good about an idea, the delta side for what would need to change to make this work.  I suspect this would lead to a different quality of discussion then going directly to what’s wrong or won’t work about an idea.