When someone says, “yeah, but” we steel ourselves for their objections and excuses, no matter how tactful they are with the words which follow. We know they’re about to rationalize whatever we just proposed to them, and not in an affirming way, but to escape from it, and perhaps, to challenge us. This was something we talked about in more detail here: Banish your Possibility Robbers.
“Yeah, but”s are sneaky in the way they’ll creep into our language, and most of us aren’t aware of their negative tone until some brave soul will point it out to us. Once you’re aware of them though, your attention goes on high alert, and you’ll scrutinize each ‘but’ that shows up. I level this scrutiny on my writing too: ‘but’ begins to look like an inkblot on the page. Never imagined I’d be curious enough to actually look up the word one day, but I did!
But: a conjunction used to introduce something contrasting with what has already been mentioned.
The key word here is contrast, and that’s where I find ‘but’ working in our favor as the better culture builders we managers aspire to be. We don’t care for ‘but’ as a form of resistance, but we can love it as a form of simply shifting toward better:
- Resistance digs in, from negative to negative.
- Contrast shifts, and can take us from negative to positive.
There are two values which illustrate this well in our value-mapping: MAHALO and HA‘AHA‘A.
Evoke and elicit MAHALO.
MAHALO teaches us to weave more thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude into our days. To evoke it, is to bring MAHALO to your conscious mind. To elicit it, is to bring MAHALO to your responses for others.
You can practice this in your self-coaching with the simplest MAHALO exercise there is: Gratitude journaling. Some people make it habitual, writing a top-of-mind listing of what they are grateful for at the end of each day. Science has shown this habit will affect your dreaming, and the quality of your sleep. Others write their lists first thing in the morning for the mindfulness and meditative quality it can bring to the day to come. Their practice is part of how they get dressed for the day, including a positive attitude as their very visible demeanor.
I’ve learned to go for ho‘o gusto, purposely evoking MAHALO when something has gone wrong in some way. This helps me rebound with gratitude.
I didn’t get what I wanted, BUT shift! This is what I do have!:_____________
I messed this up, BUT shift! This is what I did right!:_____________
This is not going to work for me, BUT shift! This definitely does!:_____________
Looks like I’ll be stuck here for a while, BUT shift! This is what I can do!:_____________
To appreciate and be thankful is a next-stepping strategy in shifting with positive expectancy. As we have learned, next-stepping is how long-term happiness can reveal itself in short-term actions.
Short and sweet, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Evoke and elicit HA‘AHA‘A.
HA‘AHA‘A grooms humility, modesty, and respectfulness into our character. When we elicit it, humility, modesty, and respectfulness get woven into the responses we give to others — even when we have to say “no” to them. We stand our ground, and don’t change our “no” — we state it better due to our respect of another’s dignity, and we become clearer about our own reasons in the process.
To evoke HA‘AHA‘A, bringing it to conscious mind, is to be more open-minded in our thinking. We get less reactive and less impulsive. Instead of saying “yeah, but” right away (it is often an impulsive slip) we begin to say, “Tell me more.” We convey that we genuinely want to understand whatever is being proposed to us. We buy more time to think because we learn more to think about. We can be sure, because we make our decisions having more information. We strip away our assumptions, and give the other person that assurance that we’ve done so.
Again, we might still say no when the conversation is done, but we’ve had a more complete conversation, one in which we’ve held another person in higher regard. Remember: Ha‘aha‘a does not promote lowliness, reticence or a lack of assertiveness. We have been more careful, and that means we aren’t likely to regret our decisions down the road.
So don’t banish ‘but’ completely. Hō‘imi: Look for better, and find your best, with MAHALO and HA‘AHA‘A as the values which can guide you.
Continue your learning!
Related reading, if you are just joining our Managing with Aloha conversations:
- Banish your Possibility Robbers — “Yeah, but” is one Robber, learn about the others.
- Palena ‘ole Positivity is Hō‘imi— look for it — “Being positive” is a Palena ‘ole conviction: It is Key Concept #9 on Unlimited Capacity.
- Myth Busting with Aloha — Learn to ask this question in your day-to-day workplace conversations with each other: “Why do you think that’s so?”
For more, do take the links selectively placed in this article. The tags and categories in the post footer are also clickable indexes designed to guide you in the sequential learning of ‘IKE LOA.
Mahalo has almost become as universally understood as Aloha, and like Aloha, it is vastly underestimated. Many will often say Mahalo with lightness, to simply convey “thank you.” As a value, Mahalo includes thankfulness, appreciation, and gratitude as a way of living. We live in thankfulness for the richness that makes life so precious at work and at home, and we are able to sense our gifts elementally. Mahalo is the opposite of indifference and apathy, for it is the life perspective of giving thanks for what you have by using your gifts — and all of your gifts — in the best possible way.