There comes a certain point in life when you’ve got to start being honest. Honest with yourself and honest with those around you – especially those you love. A big part of this is refusing to be a “Yes man.” When you hear the phrase, “Yes man” you often think of someone who cosigns on everything and allows things to ride that shouldn’t necessarily ride. This is most certainly a “Yes man.” But I believe there are a few other ways you can be a Yes man. Here are a few things I think we can do to avoid the traps of being Yes men.
If it’s not good, don’t say it’s good.
Whether it’s an outfit, a business plan, or a rehearsed speech, be honest with your people about what’s good and what’s not. You owe it to your loved ones to be honest, even if it makes you uncomfortable to do so. As long as it comes from a genuine place, and you do it tactfully, and you don’t have a Negative Nancy attitude that makes you come off as a hater or habitual naysayer (I wrote about this), you should absolutely tell the truth. My grandma used to say, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. That said, find a nice way to let your loved ones know when something they’re doing, planning, wearing, etc. doesn’t work.
If you know it’s not right, don’t support it.
There’s a difference in being a supporter and being an enabler. Don’t hype your loved ones up, or, worse, sit in silence while they do something wrong. If the relationship is real, you should be able to tactfully speak up when it’s necessary. Hear a friend make ignorant or derogatory statements? See your friend about to cheat on their spouse? Overhear your cousin being disrespectful to grandma? Whatever the case may be, if you don’t say anything, you’re ultimately cosigning the behavior and being a Yes man. What they choose to do after you speak up is out of your control, but you owe it to your real ones to be real with them.
If you don’t want to do it, it’s okay to say no.
I am all about showing up and being a good friend. However, sometimes, if saying yes to something is going to stress you out and possibly put a strain on your feelings towards the person you’re saying yes to, just say no. Don’t get me wrong – be a good friend, and show up. But learn when saying ‘Yes’ takes more out of you than is good for you or your relationships.
If you can’t do it, it’s okay to say no.
If you’re a people pleaser (raises hand), it’s easy to try to stretch yourself every which-a-way to try to make things happen for people. Saying no can feel like you’ve failed your loved ones or like you’ll lose this imaginary game of being the perfect person you’re playing against yourself. If you don’t have the money, time, energy, strength, talent, etc. just say no.
Sometimes you have to say no, even if you can or want to do something.
People don’t grow from being coddled. And in some cases being the person someone can always expect a “Yes,” or “Sure, I’ll do it” from does more harm than good. Most of us have people in our lives we’d move mountains for. And that kind of love is really special and really important. But sometimes, even if you can and/or want to move mountains for other people, you’ve got to let them figure out how to roll up their sleeves and do the work on their own. This may not be the case for everyone you’d go above and beyond for, but applies to individuals who haven’t figured out how to navigate life because they rely on you to be their personal GPS. It’s tough and it’s not easy, but sometimes this is necessary for you to allow your loved ones to wander and figure out how to reach the best versions of themselves.
Just because someone is usually right, doesn’t make them always right.
Certain personality types have a natural way of getting others to fall in line with their train of thought or plan of action. Especially if the individual is usually spot on about things. But that doesn’t mean you have to say Yes, agree, or get onboard with everything they say and do. This is especially true in the workplace. Follow your gut. Have a voice of your own. And if your gut and voice tell you not to cosign with the person that’s usually right, then do that. Even if you end up being wrong, it’s important to let people know how YOU really feel and what YOU really think.
Don’t expect your circle to be full of Yes men.
Should your loved ones support you? Yes. Should they stand up for you? Yes. Should they check you and tell you the things you might not want to hear? YES. Surround yourself with people who will not only support you and stand up for you, but also those who will challenge you to do and see things differently, and who would prefer to see you thrive over having you not get upset with them. At the end of the day, it’s your life to do with what you please (and let’s be honest, no one knows the intricacies of your life, mind and heart because you probably don’t share everything), but regardless, your perspective isn’t the only one that’s valid, and being closed off to the input of those who want the best for you will only stunt your growth.