Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who had a couple job interviews for really great opportunities. In their second interview they had an opportunity to speak with an employee that had only been there for a few months. They had a very meaningful and deep message to communicate.
Following the newer employee expressing his positive regard for the workplace culture they said, “If you are a yes person this may not be a great place for you.” Immediately after hearing this my friend’s inner dialogue said, “Shit, I am a yes person.”
Let us clarify something for you. A “yes person”, is more than somebody who has trouble saying no, but also has the tendency to operate from a place of fear (what will happen if I say no?), takes on more responsibility and added stress because they sometimes have trouble advocating for themselves, and those that can easily struggle with validation from the environment around us. Nobody wants to admit that they are a “yes person”, especially if that means identifying with anything potentially negative. When push comes to shove many of us have that inner “yes person” as a built-in mindset.
The “yes person” mindset can affect employees, friends, parents, teachers, kids, and pretty much anyone else that may have responsibilities that are more than self-serving.
Still in denial about having the “yes person” mindset? I am sure you can think of at least one time where it was nearly impossible to say no.
YouTime Coaching frequently works with parents that are “yes people”. This is not a designation of fault, but there is most definitely a need to talk about it and look deeper. Whether you heavily identify with this mindset or not, below we provide you two risks “yes people” face and two rewards for being more aware and mindful of everyone’s needs when making decisions (even on the fly).
THE RISKS OF BEING A “YES PERSON”:
1. System overload.
Here is your logic for the day…
Focusing on one task at a time = each task receives a lot of focus/attention
Focusing on multiple tasks at once = less focus/attention on each task
While it may not always be this simple, the logic is there. Saying yes means inheriting more responsibility and with more responsibility comes the potential for more stress, distractions, frustrations, and the list goes on. The items end up getting less of your undivided attention and more of your stress. No matter what your coffee or Adderall tells you, we are not built for multi-tasking.
An employee may keep taking on new projects, picking up the slack for somebody else, accepting unrealistic deadlines, or agreeing to undesirable employment terms to remain in good standing with her/his boss and/or prove them self. Let’s face it, this just leads to job resentment.
A parent (especially single parents and divorced families) is already juggling responsibilities, so having a faulty shut off valve is simple going to cause more stress. Quality over quantity is a good rule of thumb, because kids have an uncanny ability to find ways to “fly under then radar” when Mom and Dad are busy with other things.
2. The ball is in their court.
This isn’t about control, but it is about people taking advantage. Some individuals are unbelievably obvious in their actions towards other, and more importantly, well aware of what they are doing. For others, including family and close friends, they may not be as aware. Kids grow and learn which parents are more reliable for certain needs. If Mom will let them borrow twenty bucks and Dad is more of a “get a job” type of person, they grow to rely on her being the go-to. While your kids may not be consciously taking advantage of your “yes person” mentality, they do grow to learn to rely on it. This goes for other people as well.
Reliability is a great trait, but you must start taking inventory of what people rely on you for and if this helps or potentially hurts them.
3. You have no choice.
Call it whatever you would like, when you have the “yes person” mentality you frequently find yourself with very little or absolutely no choice in situations where pleasing other people are at stake. Many of the parents that we work with see these moments as actually fulfilling. They said things such as, “when I can help out, it actually gives me a really good feeling’, and “seeing them happy actually makes me happy”.
This is not about your kids happiness, this is about your issue with discomfort. No parent feels fully comfortable when their kid is struggling in any context and to any degree, but as a parent you must be able to create some mental and emotional space between the initial discomfort and your reaction to it. Be strategic and mindful when it comes to making these decisions. Remember, they are called decisions because you have a choice. Lastly, remember this thought… If you are saying yes to somebody else, what are you saying no to yourself on?
BENEFITS TO BEING A MINDFUL “YES PERSON”:
1. You use your emotions, your emotions don’t use you.
The problem doesn’t lie within a person saying “yes”, the problem lies in the disconnect between what emotions are driving that decision. Mindfulness allows a parent to take a few steps back from the situation, observe what emotions are at play, and proceed in a more skillful way. When we talk about reactions, we are really talk about emotions. Try practicing the S.T.O.P. Technique when it comes to making important decisions.
S = STOP. When you notice an imbalance, take a pause.
T = TAKE A BREATHE. During this pause simply focus on the sensation of your inhale and exhale. Bring your awareness to the sensation of breathing, filling your stomach with air, and softening with each exhale. If your mind gets distracted, just bring it back to the breathe. This will help settle your mind.
O = OBSERVE. Take a quick note of how the breathing feels. Ask yourself, “In this moment, what is really happening?”
P = PROCEED. This small shift will help you respond skillfully rather than react emotionally. Take an action that seems appropriate for you and the situation.
2. You are making a meaningful contribution.
At various stages in a kid’s life they go through a process called individuation. During this time, they start learning more about what makes them a unique individual, separate from other people. Try shifting your perspective from, “I am saying NO to them”, to “I am giving them the opportunity to figure this out and will support them in other ways”. This means you are actively contributing to their ability to be independent.
Try saying to them, “I am open to support you, but want to in other ways this time.” They may get frustrated, but this is something new for you both to work with and allow them to experience the frustration or what emotion that comes up.
3. You will be good enough.
Many fears can come into play when dealing with a “yes person” mentality. The fear of not being a good enough parent, of being the cause of your kids discomfort, of creating more problems for them, or even the fear of what will happen (uncertainty) if you don’t say yes. Know this, you will be enough. Perfect parents are like unicorns, so embrace being enough for your kids. Failing and struggling in front of a child gives them a much more accurate depiction of what life is like. Navigating away from a “yes person” mindset will help you see that the relationship can grow in new ways than previously thought.
THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT. BE PATIENT AND KIND TO YOURSELF THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS.