I’m currently reading a book about building the Disney Parks and in it, the author explains that Walt Disney didn’t like to be told “no.” If you’re going to tell someone “no,” there’s typically a reason behind it.

  • No, because we don’t have it in the budget.
  • No, because I don’t have time today.
  • No, because I said so. (what parent hasn’t used this one?)

But what if you rephrase your “No, because” to a “Yes, if?” Instead of explaining why something cannot be done, let the other party know what it’s going to take to get the job done.

  • Yes, if sales hit 110% of their goal for the month.
  • Yes, if someone could sit in on the 2 PM McNealy call and give me an update afterward.
  • Yes, if you get your homework and chores done.

Now, the individual knows what has to happen for his or her request to happen. Not only that but your attitude about the task now has a positive spin on it. Instead of thinking this is something which cannot be done, you know it can be done and you also know what has to be done in order to accomplish this task.

This reminds me of the today.txt productivity plan:

If nothing else, today I am going to ___________.
I am going to do this by ______ then _____ then ______.
If I do this and only this, today will be a good day.

You outline what you’re going to get done and break that down into steps to accomplish your goal.

Think back to today, or yesterday, or sometime this week when you answered with a “No, because” answer. How could you have rephrased this as a “Yes, if” answer? I find it’s always easiest to self-correct when answering via email or Slack, as you have time to reflect on your response before hitting send. If you’re responding in-person or on the phone take a moment and try to replace your “No, because” answers with “Yes, if” and see how it changes everyone’s attitude about the problem and each other.

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