Why “Yes Men” Are Dangerous, and How to Easily Spot Them

We find peace in being supported by others. When expressing our ideas to the people around us, we more often look for acceptance rather than criticism of our thoughts. This innate desire for our thoughts and ideas to be accepted by the world around us drives us to surround ourselves with people who think and act like us. Our friends are more likely to agree with our ideas than strangers on the street, which is a major reason for why we surround ourselves with them. They are more likely to go with you to your favorite restaurant, see the movie you want to watch, and support you in your career goals.

Having people who support what you do and say in life is critical. You need to know when to pull the trigger on your ideas and having people who support your decisions is a weight taken off your shoulders. You become less anxious with supportive people in your life, and you become more confident in the general direction your life is taking. Spending life alone and making decisions without the support of anyone around you is a scary thing to do, it is not conducive to good decision-making habits.

A problem arises however, when the people around you become so supportive that they shy away from providing criticism when you deserve it. Having people around you to put a stop to your potential in making bad decisions is just as important as having people who support your good ideas. This article hopes to explain why having “yes men” around you is a dangerous thing, and proposes one simple way you can know if you’re in fact surrounded by such individuals.


You Need Someone To Protect You From Yourself



You will make bad decisions in your lifetime. They may even be terrible. Catching bad ideas prior to their execution via action is a good method of alleviating the stress which they may cause in the future. Our confidence is often misguided in the many things that we do, and bad decisions are often seen clearer from the third-person perspective. Surrounding yourself with people who do not automatically say, “yes,” to everything that you propose is critical in saving yourself from the ideas that seem so right until they go wrong.

You should fight the urge to surround yourself with people who tend to only agree with you. Look for trusted companions who are not afraid to disagree with you, and do not automatically label them as jealous, envious, or uneducated on the subject when they do. You should take criticism from those close to you with utmost seriousness, and try to align your view of the decision making process with an objective, third person perspective.

Do not fall in love with hearing how good your ideas are from those around you. You are a human being, and you will be wrong. Looking at a situation from all angles requires the unbiased opinions of others – including the ones who tell you how terrible your decision-making skills tend to sometimes be. They will save you from regret in the future, and most of all, from being a victim of your own confidence and bias. Any opponents you have in life will have an advantage if your decisions are not properly vetted by those around you. Making preventable mistakes stemming from your own overconfidence in things is a painful way to lose.


How to Spot a “Yes Man”


“Yes men” are typically present in the circle of people you surround yourself with. They reduce their relationship with you down to the notion that always agreeing with the ideas you propose serves to benefit them in some form. We’re enticed to keep the people who always agree with us around. We’re motivated to hang out with them and tell them sensitive information. We find it easier to share our deepest thoughts and desires with those who say, “yes,” to every proposition that we make. The people who serve as “yes men” in your life want to experience the perks of you keeping them around yourself. You may be perceived to be successful in some realm, and their desire to be in your presence may be driven by how successful they hold you to be.

“Yes men” are easy to spot when you propose an idea which is obviously bad, by your own standards. Spotting the “yes men” around you entails proposing ideas, making plans, or acting out in ways which you, yourself, know to be incorrect and ill advised. Examples of obviously bad ideas can vary. It could be a laughable business proposition, or a seriously proposed expression of severe narcissism on your part. Try to make your attempts at discovering “yes men” seem like authentic proposals of bad ideas. By understanding that what you say is incorrect yourself, the people who agree with the incorrect statements and propositions coming from you will stand out in their inability to label you as wrong.

Book Recommendation: 

Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement

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