Being the ‘Yes Man’

Don’t be the ‘Yes Man’

DISCLAIMER: Will Grashoff, my MD has made me write a disclaimer to inform everyone that this is not about him. 

Film Spoiler Alert: Yes Man. A Jim Carrey classic, released in 2008. (Bear with me, there’s a purpose to this story, you haven’t been redirected to IMDb) The story of a man, named Carl, stuck in a bit of a rut. He’s talked into attending a ‘Yes!’ workshop, where he is advised to say yes to everything, in order to avoid missing out on potentially great opportunities. Everything goes incredibly well. A new romance, a promotion, and an exciting new lifestyle…

I believe that in the workplace, there is a time and a place to be the Yes man, but I also firmly believe that there are times when it’s just important to be the No man (or woman)!

Getting the balance right is tough – Impressing, and earning praise from your senior members of staff brings self-worth – it makes us feel good. However, there comes a time where you may have to say to no to your manager’s unreasonable requests.

‘I need you in tomorrow at 6 am, hopefully, we’ll be finished by 9 pm, I’ll bring the coffee!’ – says my boss, in her authoritative Miranda Priestly manner.

Interestingly, the results of a survey found that two-thirds of respondents felt obliged to work in excess of their contracted hours. I’ve been in a similar position before. I experienced a sense of guilt for leaving the office, even though I had already worked in excess of my contracted working hours. I didn’t want my manager to think I was lazy, or that I didn’t care about my job. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised people actually respect you more for speaking up (when done in the right way). Professional pushback.

Choosing to discuss your problem with your boss can be a difficult discussion, and creating unwanted tension in the office can lead for an unenjoyable environment, but it’s important to remember that those in senior roles can have different priorities. They face different pressures from those above them and may live completely different lives to you outside of work. They may not even realise that their requests are causing you additional stresses.

In the Yes Man film, Carl’s fortunes soon take a bad turn. He’s profiled as a potential terrorist, for engaging in a number of suspicious activities. His relationship becomes a struggle. He soon realises that saying yes to everything can have negative repercussions.

Moral of the story: Don’t be Carl. Learn from Carl’s mistakes, and if you’re not happy, discuss it.  Be like Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway!)


Dominic Blossom

Digital & Creative Consultant

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