WIN THE “YEAH BUT” GAME in 5 Easy Steps

You know the game, don’t you? Someone invites you to helpthem solve a big problem and every great suggestion you makeis met with, “Yeah, but that won’t work because….” Frustratedand defeated, you finally give up.

Next time someone tells you about a problem, use thesesteps.

1. Listen politely, without offering any suggestions.Remember, it is not your problem.

2. Affirm that the problem is really important. Just say,“That sounds like a really big problem.”

3. Ask, “What have you already tried (thought of) doingabout the problem?” You learn all the suggestions to scratchoff your list. And you subtly reinforce the capabilities ofthe person with the problem.

4. After you hear the answer, ask, “How did that work out?”You invite the problem holder to rethink his or her ownchallenge. Often that leads to a solution on the spot, withthanks to you for your brilliant suggestions. (Of course,you have not made any suggestions, but that doesn’t reallymatter.)

5. Ask, “Is there anything you would like from me?” Oftenthe answer will be, “No thanks, I have figured out what todo next.” If you are invited to do something more, you canchoose to accept or decline with a much broaderunderstanding of the problem.

These steps will help you resist your own tendency to try tobe a hero by solving someone else’s problem, usually beforethey even ask for your help. This game usually starts bysomeone lamenting about a problem instead of asking for helpto solve it.

The invitation you are learning to decline is really aboutproving that the problem is unsolvable, that nobody canhelp, and that the problem holder is justified in giving upand doing nothing further about the problem.

Instead, you affirm the problem holder’s skill andresourcefulness, without getting involved in the game. Andyou may become the hero after all.

Copyright 2004 Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.


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Laurie Weiss, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

Laurie Weiss, Ph.D., author of Dare To Say It!, is aninternationally known executive coach, psychotherapist, andauthor. For more simple secrets for turning difficultconversations into amazing opportunities for cooperation andsuccess, visit or