Ban the BUTS and encourages the ANDS

 There are two types of meetings.  One filled with buts and the other rich with ands.  

A But Meeting

“That’s a good idea but what happens if…”
“We could do what you propose but I think it will fail…”
“Maybe we could do that promotion but I’m afraid of what our distributors would say….”

An And Meeting

“I like that idea and imagine if we also tried to raise the price…”
“We could do what you propose and I think we might succeed…”
“Maybe we could do that promotion and I think we should bring our distributors into the discussions…”

Daniel Pink’s recent book To Sell is Human inspired this post. Please check out his book to gain a deeper insight into this idea.  He brilliantly describes the importance of but versus and. Consider this post a snack sized sample of his explanation of how to motivate and influence people.

Language matters.
It can have an huge influence on how we view a problem and the way we approach the issue. Yeah, but is a way of looking at the negative and assessing why things might fail. Yeah, and does the opposite and allows a team to build upon an idea with optimism.  The rungs on a ladder are ands….take step one and go to step two and go to step three. This ladder builds upon the previous idea and takes you to the top.

Try this experiment.

Organize a brainstorming session to develop a marketing idea or tactics to fit your overall strategic plans.  Post a series of words that can’t be used in the first half hour.  Give your team 30 minutes of building words and phrases instead like and. Eliminate reason to take apart an idea and instead see if you can keep improving upon the original concept.  Don’t let anyone criticize or challenge during those first 30 minutes. Let it be a building effort like stacking Legos one on top of the next.

I can hear some of you say, yeah but what good will it do?

What I have encountered through this approach is that we take an idea and find solutions at the weak points. We do it with optimism and a positive attitude that helps us think through the idea thoroughly.  There is plenty of time to put it through the yeah, but filter.  But begin with a good idea and make it great.

Recently, I did something like this with several colleagues. I had an idea that for an hour we built upon where we took any concerns and figured out an and solution that moved us up a notch. No criticism or skeptical attitude allowed. We built upon each other's ideas and energy and created a powerful tactic for our business. 

At the end of the hour, the idea was so much stronger than it was initially that when we tried to pick it apart, it was hard to find a major fault or weakness. When we shared it with others, they too couldn’t find any major problems.

So next meeting, ban the buts and encourage the ands.

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