We have been writing free weekly networking tips for over eight years and our recent tip, #629 (!) on giving an ‘instant yes’ to high-trust people in our network got us thinking about using this same technique more frequently in our work world. As a backgrounder, the concept of the ‘instant yes’ came from the very smart Seth Godin. It is the idea that when someone asks you for a favor or some help, you say yes immediately. As he explains, it is “Not the yes of, ‘I’ll look it over and if it makes sense or fits my calendar or is profitable then of course, I’ll do it’ but the yes of, ‘yes.’” Think about how many times you’ve been in a situation at work where this is the kind of lukewarm response to an ‘ask’? It probably happens all the time.
Recently we heard the story of a team meeting where an ‘instant yes’ would have been a very good idea. The manager sat down with her team to discuss an unhappy experience a customer was having with ‘bugs’ in their software product. Everyone at the table was engaged in the discussion making suggestions. By the end of the meeting certain ideas had moved to the top of the list but none were specific to an individual’s role. In fact, it was a new initiative where someone needed to take the lead. Interestingly, there was a lot of nodding, agreeing (“Great idea!”, ‘Yah, that could really work”, “We should have done that before.”) but no one put up their hand and said “Yes, I’d be happy to do it!” Sure everyone was busy, but if you are thinking about ways to distinguish yourself to the leadership team, this is one of the ways to do it.
So, here’s a suggestion: For the next three months, why not try using the ‘instant yes’ with colleagues in your work network, the same way you would with your best friend? If someone comes to you with a problem or a question, stop what you are doing (unless you are in the middle of heart surgery) and give them an instant “yes, let me see if I can help”. Most people will help others (within reason) but there’s a powerful difference between the thought-bubble response, “It’s kind of an imposition, but sure…” and an ‘instant yes’.
-Judy Thomson, Gayle Hallgren-Rezac, and Darcy Rezac, business networking speakers and authors of Work The Pond! Shepa Learning Company
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