Most people are no buts

We all know people whose first reaction is always, “No, but…” to every idea that comes their way, or every statement they hear.

“No, but…” is sometimes an attempt to prove they are smarter“No, but you don’t understand that our customers don’t care about the XYZ feature you are proposing we add to our product.”

“No, but…” is often used as a way to change the subject and avoid really answering what you have said. “No, but I think [unrelated issue] is also important.”

“No, but…” is sometimes a way of saying, “I’m not listening, and I have a better idea.”

As I’ve been working on my new book, Ditch the Pitchand learning how the art of stage improvisation can teach us how to be better sales people, I’ve been struck by how these lessons go beyond sales.

In a recent issue of this newsletter called Get Rid of Your But, I talked about the importance of using stage improv’s “Yes, and…” principle in your selling. Stage improvisers can collaborate on stage to create a scene out of nothing by agreeing with everything that happens around them. If they react to something another actor says or does with “Yes, but” or “No, but,” the scene will stall and crash like a one-engine Cessna that just ran out of fuel.

Susan MessingSusan Messing is one of Chicago’s most popular stage improv actors, and a prominent teacher of improvisation at Chicago improv holy sites such as Second City, iO and the Annoyance Theater. I was interviewing Susan recently for Ditch the Pitch, and I asked her if she thought improv was natural for people. “Most people are ‘no-buts,'” Susan responded. “The first thing they need to learn is about simple agreement.”

Although I was interviewing Susan for a book on sales, it was clear that this “No, but” reflex is slowing down the business world just about everywhere, just about all the time.

When discussing improvisation, Susan loves to talk about “acknowledging and justifying what’s right in front of me.” She knows that one of the first things she needs to teach her students is the basic principle of agreeing with what is going on around you. You have to be willing to abandon any preconceived ideas of what you think should happen, and you need to be willing to leave certain things unsaid if they don’t fit into the situation going on around you. You need to perceive the world around you and say, “Yes.”

Imagine if every meeting you are in this week had an atmosphere of “Yes, and…” instead of an atmosphere of “No, but…” Imagine if people who are normally disagreeable were, instead, collaborative in their conversations. Imagine if all of your business conversations proceeded through incremental steps of agreement, instead of getting bogged down in a swamp of “nos” and “buts.”

Of course, there are times you need to say “No.” But there are ways to say “No” that don’t shut down dialogue. I am convinced that there is always something to say “Yes” to. It may just be, “Yes, I understand what you are saying,” or “Yes, we both agree that this is a challenging issue.”

I was working with the warehouse staff of a client company a few years ago, focused on the concept of “Yes, and…” This company provides outsourced network support for their customers’ data centers. The lives of the warehouse staff were a never-ending torrent of unreasonable requests from customers, sales people and field engineers to make replacement parts appear across the country in unreasonably short timeframes. These were people who spent a lot of their day saying, “No.”

We were using real-life scenarios from that very week, as I asked them to role-play these situations without using the word “No.” At first, they said it would be impossible, and a few of them were visibly irritated with me. But, as I knew they would, they eventually succeeded in turning every “No, but…” into a “Yes, and…” They didn’t overpromise deliveries; they just found different ways to communicate their information.

Try it yourself. See if you can go this entire week without saying, “No, but…” Agree with the world around you, and you just might find that it is willing to agree with you in return.

Steve Yastrow

Posted in Conversation, Improvisation, Newsletters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Subscribe to the Blog
Email:  

On Steve's Mind
Get Steve's newsletter featuring his ideas and practical advice delivered to your email inbox.
* = required field
Latest Tweets
Testimonials
Alex von Bidder
Steve Yastrow's teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
Tom Peters
When Steve Yastrow writes, I pay close attention.

Tom Peters

Founder, Tom Peters Company
Kathleen Phillips
Not only is Steve's content sound, but the energy he displays in delivering it will knock your socks off.

Kathleen Phillips

Ernst & Young, Chicago, IL
David Sank
I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that is intent on enhancing their customer experience. Prior to working with Steve, we were communicating various messages to customers. Steve and his team helped us achieve a cohesive brand message that we as a company live daily. Steve is an incredible listener and learned the nuances of our business rapidly. I can’t imagine anyone Yastrow and Company couldn’t help.

David Sank

President and CEO, Calico Cottage
Craig Dwight
Steve’s approach to integrating all customer contacts into a comprehensive marketing message is a must in today’s information age. We have partnered with Steve to develop our integrated and comprehensive marketing message, and as a result of his excellent work, his new book is required reading for all of our employees.

Craig Dwight

Chairman & CEO, Horizon Bancorp
Jennifer Whelan
“Steve’s workshops helped bring out what is best at Acuative. His insights were fresh and long-lasting—we continue to use his tools and approach years later.”

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
Chris Miller
I rarely book speakers more than once. But I’ve used Steve four times! Steve has our association’s interest at heart and works tirelessly to deliver customized programs. He always ranks highly with our affiliates because he is outcome-focused, fast-paced and highly engaging. Anyone looking for insight and understanding into marketing, branding and sales should book Steve!

Chris Miller

Executive Director, Professional Systems Network International
roma-maxwell
I give Steve two thumbs up—five thumbs up, if I had that many!

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
jim-evans
Yastrow and Company introduced Brand Harmony and their Be the Brand concept to our team at Jenny Craig.  I believe these new ideas contributed in helping us triple the company's revenue during my years as CEO.

Jim Evans

former President and CEO, Jenny Craig
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand, and our experience with them was empowering, fun and a great learning opportunity. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line

Roma Maxwell

Roma Maxwell, Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Rhoda Olsen
Steve Yastrow has clearly described the emotional reality of customer relationships and their impact on profitable business growth.

Rhoda Olsen

President, Great Clips for Hair
Marc Allen
We are absolutely better off after engaging Yastrow and Company. They helped us look at our business from our clients’ perspective, resulting in a cultural shift throughout our organization. These changes have made a big impact - we’ve gained new clients and strengthened relationships with existing clients. The investment was well worth it.

Marc Allen

Vice President of Sales, AMD Industries
Chris Tucker
Steve is a creative and collaborative speaker who communicates his ideas clearly and concisely. He immediately understood our business needs and provided a better perspective on how our customers see us as a company. I have referred Steve to our customers in the past and I will continue to do so. He’s intuitive and has a unique way of looking at business. Steve has the experience to turn a project into something extremely valuable for any organization. I strongly recommend working with Yastrow and Company.

Chris Tucker

Director of Business Development, MBX Systems
Ward Alles
Steve Yastrow knows his stuff. That's why our management team has read all of his books. And that's why we've had him as a keynote speaker at both client and employee events. From creating brand alignment, to selling more effectively, to providing top-notch customer service, Steve offers words of wisdom based on real-life experiences. He always engages his audiences with questions, interactive exercises and great storytelling that keep you coming back for more. Read Steve's books. Then book Steve. You'll be glad you did.

Ward Alles

CEO, Core Creative
Jennifer Whelan
Our work with Yastrow and Company yielded the best long-term value of any consulting engagement we’ve ever had. As we grow and expand internationally, Acuative continues to depend on the branding approach and marketing tools Steve and his team developed. Yastrow and Company genuinely partnered with us, were exceptionally responsive and remain committed to our success.

Jennifer Whelan

Vice President of Marketing, Acuative
american-licorice-logo
We have seen huge benefits from Steve's input. Steve is unlike any other consultant I've ever worked with. He takes a genuine, deep-seated interest in our business. He is intuitive and able to identify problem issues quickly. We wouldn't be as far along in acheiving of our long-term growth strategy if we hadn't actively and aggressively pursued Steve's Brand Harmony.

Michael MacDonald

Executive VP Sales and Marketing, American Licorice Co.
roma-maxwell
Rancho La Puerta has enjoyed continued success because of the work we did with Yastrow and Company. Together, we implemented business strategies that have contributed to our success. Steve and his team truly believe in our brand. I highly recommend Yastrow and Company to any business that needs help building the bottom line.

Roma Maxwell

Director of Sales and Marketing, Rancho La Puerta
Ditch the Pitch is a great read-- interesting, fun, and easy to follow. And I’ve already seen the concepts work. Just yesterday, I called a client and had a conversation that was 95% about the client, as the book suggests. At the end of the call, he sent a new matter my way. I ditched the pitch and it resulted in new business.

Attorney

Chicago, IL
Doug Ducey
In one morning, Steve re-energized the way we look at marketing. The only question we had at the end of the session was, ‘When can we get him back?'

Doug Ducey

CEO & Chairman, Cold Stone Creamery, Governor of Arizona
Alex von Bidder
In these high pressure times of bite-size communications we all hunger to be listened to and cared for individually. Our customers know great hospitality, the kind that is not about selling but treating their needs as our highest priority. Steve Yastrow’s teachings are applicable to any business that values long-standing success based on personal relationships.

Alex von Bidder

Managing Partner, The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York
Mike Depatie
Steve Yastrow is at the forefront of the next evolution in marketing. We have implemented many of his innovative ideas... and have seen very positive results.

Mike Depatie

CEO, Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants
jim-winter
Steve put together a program that produced spectacular results, and the quality of our communication and customer satisfaction is vastly improved. I’ve been in business for 40 years, and Steve’s the first consultant that I’ve gotten my money’s worth from. We’re going to continue to work with Steve and the bright, energetic people that are on his team.

Jim Winter

COO, Dimension Design