Working with groups of people to solve a problem, whether it's a short term challenge like you'll find on this site or in Team Challenges , or a long term problem at school or work, you're certain to run across a nay-sayer on occasion. You know the person I'm talking about; the one who immediately dismisses an idea (often before it's even completely verbalized!) or mocks it for being utterly ridiculous. The problem with a person like this is the negativity that he or she brings to the group. Not only is that single idea treated unfairly, but other members of the team will begin to feel hesitant about sharing their ideas for fear of being mocked themselves. And a team that holds back any of their ideas will suffer a lack of genuine creativity in their brainstorming.
When a judgment is made about someone's idea before it has had a chance to be explored or discussed, the group automatically misses out on any possibilities for improving on that idea and possibly incorporating it into a clever solution. As group leader, remind the team that they'll only solve their dilemma by figuring out what does work. It is not going to do them any good to have a list of vetoed ideas at the end of the day! Write down all of the ideas, without discounting - or allowing anyone else to discount - any of them.
Remind them that a simple no should never be the answer. Instead, figure out how an idea can be tweaked and finagled to result in a successful solution – how could they use the idea? Change it? Add to it?
The response to any idea should always be yes. Yes, we could figure out a way to add a purple kangaroo to our presentation; what if he accidentally fell into grape juice? Yes, we can use the string as part of our bridge; maybe instead of a support, it could be a decoration. Yes, we can figure out a way to do it, but we all have to work together.
Using yes will not only help your group to come up with some unusually creative solutions, it will also help foster a sense of teamwork that comes from a positive environment.
***Excerpted in part from Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication and Creativity