How To Cope With The “Yes” Person

yes man

Have you ever had someone in your organization who was always agreeable?

Someone who never says “no”. A person who just goes with the flow. Someone who never has any issues. One who is almost robotic in their input.

A type of person who never gives input on the team, but always agrees with everyone else? Even if all the other ideas presented conflict with each other!!

We have most likely all had a “YES”-person in our midst at one time or another. Yes-people are eager to please, but very difficult to move beyond their fears of conflict and voicing their opinion.

So what can you do as a leader to cope and develop the Yes-person to be an individual and eventually a leader in their on right?

  • Talk to them. The first place is an honest and objective conversation about their demeanor. Sometime the person is not aware that they agree with everything. Try to have them see how they respond in these situations so they can start to see themselves objectively as well.
  • Ask what their opinions are. Start with a recent time they’ve agreed with a decision or viewpoint, and ask for their opinion. Keep asking “why?” or “how come?” until you get to a root line of thinking. Acknowledge their views, validate them, and let them know that the rest of the team is waiting to hear what they say.
  • Find out why they agree constantly. It may be they are just a very agreeable person. Or they may not want to cause a stir. Or feel like they will be saying something stupid. Or they’re afraid of their peers or supervisors and are taking the easy road. Identify the triggers and work with them to reduce the external barriers to having their voice heard while you both work on the internal barriers to confidence.
  • Get them committed to speaking their mind within the framework of the company culture. Use these values to solidify the reason they’re on board, and to help them know what those values say about their contributions being needed (teamwork, honest, accountability, innovation, etc). Be creative here, the purpose is to have the company culture work through them.
  • Tell them they need to disagree, constructively, when they have the next opportunity. When that time comes about, don’t put them on the spot for embarrassment, but ask them what they think, avoid the yes-no questions, and use the “why? and “how come” asks to get their thoughts out there for the benefit of the team. Validate their input on the spot and thank them. This will build confidence and allow them to continue doing so in the future.

Yes-people are a challenge in any organization that values individual contributions. They present a unique test to our abilities as leaders and people-developers. But in meeting people at their needs and providing the resources necessary for their growth, we must help them feel validated and confident in what they bring to the team in order for them to provide value to the organization.

What ways have you handled the “Yes”-people on your teams? Please share your experiences so that others can benefits from your successes!



About Paul LaRue

My goal - To encourage you to lead & influence others with positive impact.

Posted on January.18.2015, in Leadership. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Paul, great post. Thanks for sharing. One other thing I do with these types of folks is I ask what they think before I give them my opinion. Every team member needs to be the owner of something. So in their area of ownership, I’ll ask what they think about a problem without sharing my opinions. I’ve learned since I became a manager that some people think their job is to guess my opinion. Their job is to have better opinions than me. My opinion is only the baseline. So I ask for their guidance and direction and thoughts before sharing my own. Then, if necessary, I help them understand my thoughts so they can have better ideas. We’re looking for the best ideas, not my ideas.


    • That’s a great perspective, Mike. It’s really about giving the other person first say and setting them up to give their opinion and no one else’s. Love the position that their job is to have a opinion than your own. That’s something we can all benefit from in these situations.


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