One of the most gut-wrenching things is coming to terms with the reality that someone is not what they seem. It’s always the same kind of pain. Betrayal and disappointment hurts the same regardless of whether its a personal or professional relationship that’s on the chopping block. It’s an awful and embarrassing feeling, to feel like you’re not getting the same as you’ve invested with someone.
One of the ways in which people compromise our trust and degrade us most is through total, unconditional agreement. These are called “Yes-people.”
Yes-people are the people that lack the gumption, or have lost their creative direction or voice, to stand up to what they believe in. They stamp “approved” on every concept that comes across their desk without a thought of consequence. They’re careless, selfish, or lost in their own search for validation that they sacrifice integrity in the hope that their confirmation will win you over in return. “There’s nothing in this for me – so I don’t actually care – but I really want this person to see me as creative, innovative, and supportive,” is a constant, subconscious thought for them.
I know this because, until a few years ago, I used to be a yes-person.
I learned really early in life that the easiest way to get by is to just be complicit. The easiest way to win people over or at the very least get them to like you is to stroke their ego and do whatever they ask you to do, no questions asked. I thought I was building trust when in reality I was forsaking it. I thought I was attracting more creative and innovative people when, in reality, I was likely pushing them away.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “I might be a yes-person,” then there are some things you need to know:
Your authenticity and reliability are immediately compromised.
Most people will, at the very least, give new encounters the benefit of the doubt that their personality, intentions, opinions, and efforts are authentic and not at all self-serving. But, as a person is identified to be a yes-person they lose all of those labels and the relationship automatically enters a state of crisis.
Your voice goes mute.
Yes-people can no longer be a trusted source or sounding board for new ideas, endeavors, or general opinions. You know the response you’re going to get. You – the creator – know that there will be no constructive criticism or feedback. That’s not what anyone wants in a relationship, professional or otherwise.
Your credibility goes down the drain.
One of the biggest reasons we turn to other people with our ideas, thoughts and opinions, is for a sense of validation or openness to collaboration. Yes-people or those prone to knee-jerk peripheral agreement of any idea or concept can do real harm in the workspace. It may not be immediate but yes-people are almost always worked out of the personal support system, as that person learns and grows.
Good news is that burying compulsive complicity was one of the easiest things I have ever done. I learned quickly, as crazy as it sounds, it’s natural to respond naturally. The hardest hurdle was overcoming the impostor-syndrome-induced belief that people aren’t coming to you for a truthful opinion. On the contrary, they want and appreciate a realist, veteran response. And, the best news is, the calm clarity that comes with standing by your natural reaction and thoughts and ideas is exactly what establishes someone (you!) as an authentic and trustworthy person. Try it.