“Yes, If” instead of “No, Because”

My husband once taught me the leadership principle he learned from something Newt Gingrich explains as a way to achieve transformation. He says that, when approaching a problem with a suggestion for change, we often respond instinctively with, “No, because . . .” What if, instead of, “No, because. . . “, we phrased it, “Yes, if. . .”?

My oldest daughter returns home from school to tell me that her class is having a celebration tomorrow. “Can we please make the hamburger cupcakes?” she requests. (You remember the Hamburger Cupcakes, right?)

Immediately, I see everything wrong with this request including, but not limited to, my lack of time, a shortage of ingredients, my waning energy, and the whole idea of giving away my afternoon to baking. As I form the phrase, “No, because. . .” I see her sweet face crumple. But then I try something different.

“Yes! Yes, if. . . Yes, if you can gather all the ingredients, employ your sister’s help, make the frosting, and measure everything out for me. Yes, if you can do these things. Yes, if it means we don’t have to go to the grocery store.”

For the next two hours, it was all “Yes, if. . . ” We made those hamburger cupcakes and even improvised with a brownie hamburger patty since we ran out of cupcake ingredients.

It was a great afternoon. Yes, it took up our afternoon, but it was fun. We were together in the Yes, if. 

Next time, I want to keep trying “Yes, if” instead of “No, because.”


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