Kicking the "Yes, But Syndrome"
Have you ever noticed how the mainstream media (AKA the Sinistra Media) cannot report the news without saying: “Yes, but”? If the economy posts 11 months of positive growth, the Sinistra Media will report: YES, the economy is growing BUT, in the month of December, sales did not live up to expectations.
Or, YES, Coalition forces eliminated the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, BUT the death of Al-Zarqawi is not expected to win the War on Terror. Apparently, the rule in newsrooms across the nation is that no good news can go unpunished unless a “balance” of bad news is attached to it. Bad news, however, can be reported without the “balance” of good news.
Here’s a variation: Housing figures continued to climb, BUT the experts say the growth in housing inventory will reverse that trend. Of course, the experts are rarely, if ever, named.
Following the dismal economic experience of the Carter years, the Reagan tax cuts brought about a boom rivaling the economic recovery that followed World War II. In fact, the economy produced 98 straight months of economic growth. The Sinistra Media reported the good news as follows: YES, the economy just recorded 98 months of growth, BUT the homeless problem remains.
Another Sinistra Media phenomenon is that the homeless disappear from the news during Democrat Administrations only to resurface in the media during Republican Administrations. When the economy boomed under Reagan, the Sinistra Media labeled it a period of greed and corporate mergers that cost people their jobs. Ironically, the eight Clinton years saw more corporate mergers and downsizing (firings) than at any time in our history. Those facts went largely unreported.
All too often, the “yes, but” phenomenon can be heard in ordinary conversation. One person makes a positive statement; however, for some strange reason, the listener feels compelled to respond with: “Yes, but…and so on.” Some authorities feel that “yes, but” is a form of verbal abuse.
One of the typically human purposes of making a positive statement to another human being is often to elicit positive feedback such as a simple “yes.” Notice the absence of: But.
Some married men are fond of posing this philosophical question: “If a man is alone in the forest and there is no one there to hear him. Is he still wrong?” While amusing, this highlights an actual problem in human communications.
In his seminal book on social psychology, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert B. Cialdini, lists six “weapons of influence.” One of those weapons is: “Liking.” That is, people are easily persuaded by people they like. People are more likely to buy something if they like the person selling it to them. That was the principle behind the success of the Tupperware™ Party. And, of course, a good way to be liked is to avoid what I’ll dub: the Yes, But Syndrome.
Family Practice physicians trying to learn how to get patients to be more forthcoming in reciting their symptoms or past medical histories are taught “mirroring,” whereby they subtly match the tilt of the patient’s head, how the patient’s legs or hands are positioned or other mannerisms. Soon, the patient gets the sense of talking with someone wholly sympathetic to them and their problems. Of course, a lot of this was discovered by Dale Carnegie and is contained in his book: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
So, while the Sinistra Media are not likely to cure their cases of Yes, But Syndrome, it is probably something we all need to work on. If you do suffer this syndrome, think about kicking your own But. If someone practices it on you, think about kicking theirs.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2006. William Hamilton.