Unfold your potential

How to become true thinkers from yea-sayers

Is it the case that no matter what you say your team is always nodding? Then you could be surrounded by typical yea-sayers. But unproductive servitude and the fear of rejection impede company success. Social worker Martin Bergmann explains how to create an appreciative work environment in which employees become wise co-workers and thinkers.

Many employees are too insecure to express their opinions openly. Social worker Martin Bergmann explains how to create the right conditions to unfold the potential of your team.

Oh yes, the yea-sayer. They say yes to all. They signal their consent by silence. Do you have comparable employees in your team? People who simply refuse to think critically about the current project? Then it is high time that you take care and support the yea-sayer energetically, to develop themselves to become self-determined, thoughtful and cohesive members of the team.

The Yea-sayer

Martin Bergmann, consultant and social pedagogue, knows how to turn a yea-sayer into a thought leader.

In the working world, you recognize a yea-sayer above all by his/her silence. Martin Bergmann, social pedagogue and managing director of Improwe Consulting, explains: “The yea-sayer is silent on many topics, since silence is often interpreted as consent. Identify a ‘yea-sayer’ in the team by reflecting on your work relationships. Are there people with whom you almost never discuss controversial topics? People you like to go to when searching for confirmation? Or people who find it very difficult to make their own decisions? These can be indications that people are afraid of their own positioning and are more comfortable following the ways of others.”

Why do employees become yea-sayers?

Whenever an employee learns that they are successful with a certain behavior, they use it. Success can be in this context: “This is how I get the greatest recognition of my leadership“, or “I expend little effort and don’t engage in debate throughout the day”. Yay-sayers flourish, however, in the right environment – with a boss who can neither deal with contradiction, nor with criticism and nay-sayers.

Promote thinking!

So be a good example of leadership. Help your team members by giving them clear rules and directions on the one hand, but on the other hand giving them enough space. Martin Bergmann demonstrates this by a concrete example. “The employee asks, ‘Hey, boss, should I tackle task A and B now?’

You now offer the counter, “Good question. Which factors play an important role here in our decision?” This will immediately promote an exchange of ideas between the employee and boss.

As a leader, you should place emphasis on constructive criticism from the mouths of your employees. “Challenge them actively, be an example, place feedback on the agenda, conduct regular reflections,” says expert Bergmann. If you are appreciative in your communication, an atmosphere of positive development is automatically created.

Let it rain – and then start the harvest!

A constructive criticism culture guarantees further development at all levels. “Only in a climate with lots of precipitation and variety do diverse solutions to complex problems develop,” explains Martin Bergmann. “Even in special circumstances every company, every team, everyone benefits from constructive criticism. Irrespective of whether it is a #dieselgate, new team members or personal life circumstances. If one knows how to address problems with constructive communication, and takes their well-being into their own hands, then one realizes in which direction they have to paddle.”

Further tips from Martin Bergmann to promote independent thought amongst employees:

  • Organize dedicated responsibilities for employees. This enables you to have productive consultations with colleagues.
  • Ask for input! Don’t wait until someone has the courage to formulate their own thoughts and speak up.
  • Talk to your employees. Please ask questions, but then wait. Even if you feel that the break between question and answer is too long – wait longer! Because if you give the answer yourself, your coworker only learns one thing: If I remain silent long enough, I don’t have to say anything!

About the author

Jörg Peter Urbach is the author, editor and blogger of Sprachleidenschaft. He has been writing for more than 25 years, for print and online. Concepts. Stories. Journal articles. After studying musicology and German language and literature, Jörg Peter worked as an editorial manager in the classical music business. As long-time chief editor of the portal wissen.de, he knows how to inspire readers with clever topics.

If the native Kieler is not writing, he is walking through the Alps. Or listening to the opera. With mindfulness.