A study by MIT Sloan School of Management found that words like “speech,” “middle,” “bottom,” “flat,” and — we are not making this up — “animals” will tank your proposal’s chance of success. If you want the boss and your coworkers to look favorably on your work, the best thing to say is “yeah.”
But before you think that study authors Been Kim and Cynthia Rudin are suggesting you become a yes man (yeah man?), you should know that context appears to be everything. Carmel Lobello at The Week reports that “‘yeah’ works best, not as a casual agreement, but as a transition.”
Kim and Rudin offer a few examples of how “yeah” can be incorporated into the flow of conversation:
– “Or, yeah, maybe even just a limited multicolor so it doesn’t look too childish.”
– “Yeah, if you had one of those, just coming back to your other point about pressing the button and setting off the bleeper in the room.”
– “Yeah if you are holding it in your hand you could do that.”
“Judging from these and similar dialogue segments, our hypothesis is that framing a suggestion as an agreement with a previous suggestion increases its chances of being accepted,” the authors write. “That is, if the idea comes across as if it were in line with previous thoughts by others, the suggestion has a higher chance of being accepted. This applies either when attributing the full idea to others, or just the line of thought.”
In other words, if you can convince your colleagues that you’re building on their idea, not disputing it, you’ll have a better shot at getting their buy-in.
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