At some point in your life, you've come up with an idea. For many of us, the idea isn't the hard part - it's sharing it with others.
Leaders understand this. When they hear an idea, rather than immediately dismissing it, transformational and visionary leaders will often nod their acknowledgment, then say "Yes, and..." followed by something to build upon the idea.
This does not mean they agree with your idea. It shows that they have taken it in, and are taking elements from it that they find valuable to create something new. Perhaps it is only one small element. Perhaps it is the whole thing.
No matter what, it is a sign of respect from a leader, letting you know that you have been heard and that you are now part of something greater.
The beauty of these simple words is that we're all used to hearing the word "No." The words "but" and "sorry" are thrown around so often that many of us don't even recognize when we're saying them. However, when we say the word "Yes," immediately the mind opens up to new possibilities. Rather than being a verbal eraser, it is like a verbal Lego set.
By implementing this one simple technique we gain a few new skills:
In order to be able to build upon someone else's idea effectively, you have to have been paying attention to it. No more thinking about what's for dinner, sports scores or Kim Kardashian's latest fashion faux pas while Jim from Legal is running the latest information past you.
Take time to actually connect with the person, their motivation for bringing this to you specifically, and you'll be better able to find something of value to add to the mix.
This should be an easy one for all the consultants like me out there, but once you get out of kindergarten we start to lose our sense of "play." Brainstorming sessions are an awesome way to simply blurt out anything that comes top of mind based on whatever someone else says - There are no wrong answers, which makes it fun.
When you start doing this, your inclination is to be critical. You'll want to say "no." You'll want to think practically and tell people all the reasons you know their idea is terrible and won't work. However, all of that is coming from inside of you and your personal experience and resources - which isn't relevant because you aren't them, and you don't have their experience or resources.
Learning how to practice non-judgment is probably the most valuable step of all because you'll open yourself up to being surprised and delighted rather than "proven wrong."
The sooner you implement this, the sooner you'll see positive changes around you!