Perhaps one of the most useful phrases I’ve ever learned is “Yes, and….”
It’s a pretty simple little phrase, and not exactly revolutionary. I’d probably said it a thousand times before I was taught it.
Because it’s not just the phrase, “yes, and…”, it’s when you use it.
You use it when your negotiation counterpart has just said something you KNOW is ill-informed and if they just understood and saw things your way, if you could just talk a little sense into them, this would all be over.
Basically you use it when you’d much rather say, “No, because…” or “Yes, but….”
The problem with both of those phrases is that they turn off the other person’s ability to hear whatever brilliance you’re about to share with them. The words “no” and “but” are universal signals to stop listening and start plotting The Best Come Back Ever™.
“Yes, and…” helps you avoid that problem; both words are “good” words that we’ve all been trained to appreciate. Generally speaking, when someone says “yes” we want to keep listening.
“Yes” indicates that there is goodness, and hope and light if you just keep listening.
“And” holds the promise of more; when it comes after “yes,” that promise of more is especially compelling.
Now, it does not matter if what you say after “yes, and…” agrees with whatever the other person just said. In all likelihood, it will not. All you’re doing is acknowledging what they said and providing additional information.
Here are a couple examples of how to use your new favorite phrase:
Client: The last time I paid someone for this kind of work, the hourly rate was about $10 less than what you’re asking.
You: Yes, and I have extensive experience working on this type of project for corporate clients like yourself. I did a project for Microsoft last month similar to the one you’re proposing and charged them the same rate I’ve quoted you.
. . .
Client: I’m very disappointed that you can’t meet the deadline we agreed on at the beginning of this project.
You: Yes, and we’ve added extensively to the requirements of the project since then. If there is something you’d be OK with excluding, we might be able to find a more agreeable deadline for the final project.
. . .
Client: This really only works for me if I own the copyright; it has to be a work-made-for-hire arrangement.
You: Yes, and I’d like the opportunity use this work later in a limited fashion for my portfolio. I’m pretty sure we can find something that works for both of us.
. . .
For those of you paying close attention at home, you’ll notice that the “Yes, and…” is also exceptionally helpful when people start spouting their positions at you. “Yes, and…” gives you a natural opportunity to talk about your interests and move the conversation back to an area where you’re more likely to find common ground.
I had trouble using the phrase at first because I really wanted to Be Right in the conversations I was having. I started using it, though, because I realized my interests in the negotiation were more important to me than being right in a conversation. And, it turned out that the more I used it, the easier it was to have productive conversations about interests & potential solutions with my negotiating counterparts.
So even if it feels a bit awkward at first, give it a shot. The worst thing that happens is that people start paying more attention to what you’re saying.