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What Everyone Ought to Know about Working for a Yes-Man

Tags:  Communication Skills, Career advice, Management

What's more irritating: having someone who is either pliable and spineless or so over-the-top career focused that they respond to every request with an unequivocal ""yes"" or the disgruntled got-up-on-the-bad-side-of-the-bed, always-in-a-rotten-mood grouch who says ""no"" before you've finished making your request?


They're probably equally annoying. However with the person who has a perpetual 'no' tattooed on their lips, you can often inquire further to find out why not and propose reasons why your idea or request has a benefit to it. You might even not-so-subtly bring up your topic in front of his boss thereby generating a green light from a higher up.


On the other hand, the yes-man is generally already reacting to a request from a superior and so has to move forward to save face, making it more difficult to work around a yes-man. His entire goal is to brown nose and suck up to his superiors in order to gain power and prestige, whereas the no-man may just be permanently in a rotten mood.


If you find yourself working for a yes-man who agrees to every request without regard to the who or how of actually getting the task done, you may want to consider these tactics to try and influence the situation.

""I'll give it a shot.""

This may actually sound like you have reduced yourself to becoming a yes-man, too, but that is not the case. The idea behind this semi-agreeable statement is that you are not fully committed to actually fulfilling the request. This is a passive-aggressive way of buying time. You may start the project, but work on it so slowly or do it so poorly that your boss eventually loses interest in it completely.


""I like what you're saying. Here's something else to consider.""


This is your chance to attempt to salvage the situation by at least helping your yes-man boss see there may be problems with the request. Sure, he may not care what you have to say. However, by appearing to agree with him before you offer up your own take on the situation, you can hopefully avoid having him think you're being uncooperative or not being a team player.


""Let me play devil's advocate.""


If you're really gutsy, you may just want to jump in there and give him your two cents by explaining what the impact to the team or department will be if you follow through with his request. There just may be a chance – albeit small – that the yes-man will rethink the situation and cut you some slack on some aspect of the request – due date, methodology, or perhaps having to comply at all.


The fact of the matter is that working for a yes-man most likely will continue until you either quit your job or he hits a brick wall where he is unable to deliver on a promise. Only then will he become fully aware of the impact that always saying 'yes' can have on a situation. And maybe then he'll learn to say 'no'.

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