The 'yes' people you want to avoid at work

Bruce Tulgan
July 16, 2021

Bruce Tulgan

Founder of RainmakerThinking, Inc. and Top Expert on Leadership Development and Generational Issues in the Workplace

There are three components to a successful "yes" at work:

  1. It's well-timed
  2. It's thoroughly considered
  3. It's tied to a specific, actionable commitment

We have all known someone with a reputation for saying "yes" to any new request or project, without considering these three components of a good yes. Maybe they want to establish themselves as helpful, go-to people. Maybe they feel pressured to never say "no." Or maybe they're just trying to get you off their back.

Similar to helpers, experts, or rogues, these 'yes people' are frequently well-meaning. But just because they are well-meaning doesn't mean you should come to rely on them. You want to collaborate with people who will deliver on their commitments to you and upon whom you can rely.

There are three common types of yes people to watch out for and avoid.

 

The Entangler

The entangler is the person, often well meaning, who gets too involved in your details and tries to involve you in too many of theirs. It's as if they are lonely and want someone to keep them company while they do whatever it is they are doing. They often present themselves as an ever-ready helper-- a sidekick or someone looking for a sidekick. The entangler wants to have two people doing the job of one person-- two hands, one hammer. They can consume an incredible amount of your time and are hard to untangle from your work.

 

The Generous Fool

The generous fool is the person, always well meaning, who wants desperately to be of service, but is not very good at it. They promise to do things for you that they are simply unable to do or that they are not allowed to do. So, they'll likely take up too much of your time, give you the impression that your needs are being taken care of, but ultimately disappoint you. Generous fools might think they are meeting your needs, until the very end when they deliver, and you discover that they didn't meet your needs at all. All the while, you have missed the opportunity to engage with someone who could help you. So, be nice to the generous fools, but don't work with them. Be generous, but don't be a fool.

 

The Overpromiser

Overpromisers sometimes look like the generous fool, because they often come from a good place as they aim to please. They love the feeling at the moment of the promise, like giving a kid cotton candy for dinner. Overpromisers think they are taking the easy way out on the front end by not doing the due diligence. But before long, they pay a big price, and so will the people around them. Sometimes overpromisers are big talkers. They love to impress in a meeting or when they are talking to the boss, a customer, or another big shot. Sometimes, overpromisers go rogue. They want to be helpers or heroes or have a fun adventure. Of course, rogues may also tend to ditch their rogue commitments at the last minute. If you have a tendency to overpromise, remember that the short-term gratification for you and the person you make a promise to will soon be far overshadowed by the negative impact of overpromising: failure to deliver, delays, mistakes, and relationship damage.

 

Want more tips like this?

Find more insight, advice, and tips like this in The Art of Being Indispensable at Work.

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