Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yes-and vs. No-but

This is probably one of the most important posts I've ever written here at Mokuren Dojo.  It is certainly an issue that I struggle with, and I think it's probably pretty common because it involves what I think is a universal glitch in our human nature, so you might find it of use.
It involves how you teach.  Do you more often find yourself telling students, "NO!  That is wrong.  Do it this way." Or are your encounters more often like, "Yes, that's pretty good!  And here's something more that you can try."
See, adults dont get into martial arts to be psychically beaten down a little more each day.  We get enough of that throughout the rest of our lives.  They come to learn a skill and to be strengthened and encouraged.  They come to interact with yes-and teachers instead of no-but teachers.
And let me tell you what is even more infuriating than a no-but... That is, a yes-but.  We had an exchange student a few years back who literally started every verbal exchange with the phrase, "Yes, but..."  What he was actually doing was starting by negating and dismissing his listeners' opinions and statements and finishing with the typical modus operandi of a no-but.  This guy was a no-but, except you couldn't trust anything he said because he inverted the meaning of his yes and his no.  Everybody at his school and in our community soon started calling this fellow, "Yes Butt."  That became his American name.
Anyway, I try to interact with my students through a yes-and model...
  • YES!  You got it.  And here's another little hint you can try.
  • YES! That's what I'm talking about!  And have you thought about it this way?
  • YES! Fantastic! And here's the next thing that builds on that idea.
I say that I try to do this because I think it's human nature to want to be no-but type teachers. I certainly fall into that trap sometimes.  No-but makes us sound wiser and better than our listeners, but it also makes us sound like a-holes.  Yes-but is even worse!  Try to go with the yes-and technique.
Patrick Parker

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