I had a new client who was very unhappy with his #2 person and wanted to terminate him.  I encouraged him to meet with me and Terry, an HR consultant I knew.  We met two days later at 8:00 (at night) and half way through the meeting, she quit asking questions and closed her notebook.  Here I was, “into it”, still asking a bunch of questions and taking notes.  She finally turned to me and said, “Tom, we have a lot to think about, why don’t we let your client go home…I’m sure he’s tired”.

As we walked down the hall, I said, “Terry…why did you close your notebook half way through the meeting?”  She laughed and said, “well, you didn’t see what I wrote in my notebook, did you?  Would you like to see?”  I said “of course” and she showed me a sheet of paper that had only two words on it and a bunch of circles. The two words were “Yes….but.”

“Tom…he’s not going to do anything.  I’ve learned a long time ago to read “yes….but” and I then know that they are ambivalent, have dissonance and will not make a decision.  They will stay frustrated and they will just keep going until something external happens that forces a decision.”

I learned from that experience.  Once having been retained by a group in Michigan, I felt the strong sense of “yes…but” and called my new client and talked to him about my intuitive feelings related to the “yes…but.”  He got quiet and then admitted that he was so “conflicted” that working together might not lead to any meaningful change in the way he managed his business.”

Ten years later, the Michigan group was “still stuck” and twenty years later, the original story ended unhappily.  The #2 person eventually left and took my client’s business with him.

As a business person making decisions, work through the “yes…but’s” and make a decision!

Maybe I can help.