Tools to work with young people

Yes and No technique

I am currently working with an amazing group of about 30 young people who are predicted A and A* grades. Those of you who have been around me for a while will know that this is almost becoming my life’s work. I have spent about 9 years doing this and some schools have even nick-named me The Grademaker . Everyone thinks that these bright kids have it so easy, but the truth is that they just work harder than the rest and their problems, stresses and issues are just as real and debilitating as for any other student.  Often, their biggest problem is that they have so many commitments, take on too much and can never say no.

This week I was reminded how a simple technique that I have used for so long is so powerful. One such student I was working with really does have a problem saying No, in fact so much so that his grades are beginning to suffer as a result.


The Yes /No technique I shared with him is simple and instantly changed his way of looking at things. It works on the premise that every time you say Yes to something, for something else you are saying No, and vice-versa. Initially, you can write this on a piece of paper but eventually it becomes a quick arithmetic process you do in your head. You get a piece of paper and split it half. Label one side Yes and one side No.  On the Yes side write all the things you are saying yes to that perhaps you don’t want to, and then on the opposite side write all the things you are saying no to. So for example if I say yes to starting a school shop I am saying no to study time after school; you get the picture. Often, just the mere act of writing these down gives you such a clear picture that you soon get into the act of putting yourself and what you want first.

Simple, yet so effective.