Alberto Zavatta - Why did you say yes? (Article)

Why did you say “YES”?

In the intricate web of human interactions, a persistent question asserts itself with disconcerting force: why do many people choose to respond with a vacuous and ineffective “yes” when faced with requests or situations they could easily decline?


The act of saying “yes” when, in reality, one should say “no” is an intriguing phenomenon that requires deep reflection on the social, psychological, and behavioral mechanisms underlying it. Often, we find ourselves witnessing a complex verbal dance, where verbally agreeing to a request becomes a conventional ritual rather than a genuine manifestation of intention.


One possible explanation for this behavior lies in the realm of group sociology. In a social context, saying “yes” may serve to maintain superficial harmony, avoiding conflicts or tensions. However, this form of social courtesy can backfire, generating unrealistic expectations that can ultimately undermine trust and interpersonal relationships.


It is also plausible that the phenomenon of automatic “yes” is rooted in a sort of cultural conformity, where adherence to collective choices, even just verbally, is considered acceptable or even desirable. However, this superficial adherence not only lacks authenticity but can also cause confusion and frustration for those involved.


Generational analysis could prove enlightening in this context. It is possible that different generations exhibit distinct attitudes towards verbal commitment. The so-called “boomers,” raised in a different cultural context, may be more likely to consider verbal commitment as a serious constraint, while millennials or Gen Z, accustomed to more fluid and informal communication, may perceive “yes” as an expression of courtesy without real implications.


However, regardless of generational affiliation, it is crucial to emphasize that saying “yes” without a genuine intent to follow through can have harmful consequences, both personally and professionally. Unmet expectations can undermine trust and damage relationships, leading to a loss of credibility and reputation.


Therefore, it is essential to promote a culture of authenticity and clarity in human interactions, where verbal agreement is a genuine reflection of one’s intentions and abilities. Only then can we build solid relationships based on mutual trust, avoiding the insidious traps of empty and inconclusive “yeses.”