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Sunday, 3 November 2013

Want To Be More Positive? Kick The BUT Out Of Your Conversation!

Some months ago my CEO group had a visit from Vistage speaker, John Cremer (www.johncremer.co.uk) for a most entertaining and valuable presentation on the use of Improvisation. 

One of the techniques that John employs is to have two people facing each other, one starting with a statement like “I think we should.....” to which the other person responds with “Yes, and......” followed by the “yes, and.....” etc until the whole thing collapses in helpless mirth. 

Then he changes the rules so that the first and subsequent responses are “Yes, BUT....” and just watch how everything changes. 

In the “Yes And” role play there is brightness, enthusiasm, amusement, and positivity whereas in the “Yes But” scenario, even the body language changes and this is just role play. 

Just listen to almost any interview on the radio these days where the interviewer takes down apparently good news with a “Yes, but...” follow up question. 

It is a question of positivity and frankly, there is far too much negativity both on the radio and also in printed media, in politics and in everyday life. 

Perhaps the long years of bad news about the economy has made us look for even worse news.  If as seems likely the economy is beginning to turn upwards then it behoves all of us to take a more positive view of the situation. 

I recall US Vistage speaker, Edgar Papke, (www.edgarpapke.com) who banned the word “but” from all conversations during his presentation and stopped the discussion if someone backslid.  He asked the miscreant to rephrase the sentence to drop the word. 

The results were dramatic and were substantiated by the results from John Cremer’s presentation.  People really started to realise that they can change the whole aspect of a conversation, either one-to-one or in a group, simply by dropping the “but” word so far as is feasible and sensible. 

It takes an effort of will and concentration to do it and it is well worth giving it a try.  On the face of it a small change like this seems insignificant BUT (notice that its use here leads to a positive result) it is a change that can genuinely lead to a complete turnaround in a discussion. 

Anything becomes possible; “and” is an open invitation to expand on an idea, to develop a thought, to do something positive whereas “but” is simply a put down and a stopper. 

It is a simple and very dramatic change in your approach and will bring significant changes to you and your working life.
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