One of my hypnosis clients a few years ago was a yes butter. No matter what I said to her, she replied Yes…but.” Of course, the “but” negated everything that came before it in the sentence, so nothing I said was having any impact. And, to be effective in helping her, I needed to be able to communicate some new ideas to help her shift her thinking about her problems.
My NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) training had taught me that sometimes people develop patterns of thinking and speaking that support the very problems that they want to change. I’m sure that my client had found some value in “yes butting” in some situations in the past, however, she was using the pattern on autopilot in my office in a way that was frustrating my efforts to help her make her desired changes.
The solution was simple enough. I simply reversed her own pattern when I spoke to her. I started each sentence with “but” and finished it with “yes?” “But, you can realize that your desire to change those old habits is a key in making those changes now, yes?”
The look of slight confusion on her face was priceless. All of her resistance and automatic opposition to my ideas just melted away! And, reversing the “yes…but” has proven to be effective every time I have used it since.
You may be thinking, “Yes, that is an interesting story, but how could that possibly be useful for someone like me who doesn’t do hypnosis or NLP?.”
But, on the other hand, it could be lots of fun to try out the reverse pattern sometime in a conversation with a potential customer, friend, coworker, child or spouse who “yes buts” you, as a way of answering that question for yourself, yes?