Yes but or Yes and? — Startups’ Teamwork

During my period of studies in the Netherlands as an exchange student, I have to say that I have really admired the Dutch way of life … but but but BUT there was one and only thing that suddenly came out in my daily life and became a severe conflict. Seriously people, I couldn’t stand it for more than a week, so whenever this issue came up I was trying to be brutally honest with my fellow team members in order to avoid any future potential dispute.

To get you to the point briefly, I have been in many group projects / startup projects in the Netherlands were people most of the times were too polite with each other in a level that no one was able to notice if there was an agreement or disagreement into an argument and eventually it was not possible for a suggestion to result in a consensus.

The annoying behavior I’ve noticed was that when people were arguing in a project’s brainstorming, 90% of their time they would start like this.

My opinion is to follow the (X) strategy that is going to provide more potential revenue because this and that…

You know that this is a valid and brilliant way to argue with your team members. You state your opinion/hypothesis, depict the pros and cons and consequently you come up with a plausible and feasible solution. So, right after, the most common reaction that anyone would expect from the other members of the team is to start arguing by agreeing or not, to the respective arguments.

But, Here is the most common answer that you will get in 
the Netherlands:

Yes, BUT … I believe it should have a better result if we try the (Z) way to solve this.

So my question and of course my frustration is, why on earth should you start your argument by saying “ Yes, BUT”. What does this BUT mean when you use it right after YES. I really don’t get it guys. You agree with what I say? There is nothing more effective and efficient for the whole team rather than saying a simple ‘YES’, or if you want to add something on my proposition, just say a more complicated phrase ‘YES, and’. Because that defines you have understood and listened to what I said like two minutes ago and you really want to add something on my suggestion. So please…bring it on!

On the other hand, “YES,BUT” simply implies that you totally disagree with my opinion but you are trying to express it in a polite way which is really frustrating when the team is trying to achieve a sufficient result in a strict time limit. It is not useful at all and the only thing you accomplish by using “YES,BUT” is to annoy the others and especially the one that had proposed the respective solution.

To sum up, please for Startups sake, and everyone out there who is trying to be both brutally honest and polite with others, please! Be explicit! Stop saying yes but and start saying yes and.

Never settle,

Anestis Tsoukalis