I have to admit, asking for help is not one of my strong suits, yet, my recent position as the senior vice president of marketing afforded me the luxury of an administrative assistant. The ability to hire this position felt like the epitome of admitting that I couldn’t do it all, but at the same time, it was also the reality that I couldn’t do it all. Frankly, I needed help in the not-fun parts of my job: travel, expense reports, organization, filing and the list could go on.
I remember the first time that Brittany sat in my office, ready to assist. I really needed her to help me get organized. While I knew that this is exactly what she was hired to do, I felt really bad for asking her to do it. After over explaining why I needed her help, I waited, with a twinge of nervousness, for her response. I expected her to reluctantly agree, likely while rolling her eyes.
“Absolutely!” She replied quickly.
It took me a moment to reorient my expectations because with that one word response, she completely changed my paradigm of our working relationship.
Immediately, it signaled that she was ready to work, to do whatever I asked, and she was going to do it enthusiastically. I felt empowered. She felt empowered. Her response changed everything.
Over time, I settled into my position as she did hers. Her enthusiastic “Absolutely!” always made the asking easier. The ask became second nature because I always anticipated her positive response. I relied on her. I trusted her. I wanted to involve her.
Apparently, there is power in the “Absolutely!”
Psychologists refer to this type of response as an “active constructive response.”
There a plethora of articles about the benefits of active constructive responses within personal relationships. One study claims that they can predict the outcome of your marriage based on how you respond—or don’t respond—to your spouse. Wow. That’s powerful.
I wondered how I responded to people? Then I started to study how my colleagues responded to each other and did that make a positive or negative impact?
What I discovered about the power of response
Those who responded quickly, positively and with genuine enthusiasm gained trust with their boss and colleagues more quickly. In fact, one study reveals:
“…people who engage in a high degree of active behavior at work are more successful on the job—they gain more empowerment, meaning they have greater control over their work and their work is more complex; they gain even more personal initiative, and they find new jobs more easily if they become unemployed.”
I asked Brittany to summarize what the she gained in the workplace from her “Absolutely!” Here’s what she had to say:
“Responding with an ‘absolutely’ to a given task is not always the easiest thing to do. You could be busy, tired, or the task may be just downright mundane, however in my experience, the simple word of ‘absolutely’ can completely change the course of your interactions with people, especially your boss. You will find that people will be more open to reaching out to you for help and input, your boss will see your willingness to get involved, and you will discover that ‘absolutely’ will put you in the right mindset to tackle the task with the best of your abilities.
Responding with an ‘absolutely’ opened many doors for me in the office. I made it my mission to respond with a can-do attitude consistently; thus I found that my boss took notice and entrusted me with more responsibilities and included me in more decisions that impacted the department.
It is about building trust. If your co-workers and supervisor constantly see your positive reaction to tasks, then your trust with them continues to build and it only expands your experience from there.”
Because I was Brittany’s boss at the time, I can assure you that her perspective is spot-on. Furthermore, the moment she was ready for promotion, I gave it to her enthusiastically!
I also noticed that those who responded with resistance, negativity or by barely acknowledging the ask, lost trust and were less likely to be included.
Using the same study above, you could use the opposite to reveal that those who are “passive” or negative in relationships are less successful on the job—they are less empowered, have less control over their work; have less personal initiative; and they have a hard time finding jobs when unemployed. Ouch.
3 Benefits of responding with an “Absolutely!”
Responding promptly with a can-do attitude will instill confidence in your relationships. It signals that you’ve got the back of the person making the ask. It means that you’ll do what it takes, no matter the task and you’ll do it with enthusiasm. With this attitude at the foundation, your relationships will thrive—guaranteed.
Best selling author, Stephen R. Covey says,
“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”
Actively working to establish and maintain relational trust is essential at work, at home, with your friends, family, spouse, kids…everyone. I found that every positive response that Brittany gave increased my trust in her.
When trust is established, and you are confident in your role and abilities, people will advocate on your behalf. The old phrase, “It’s not what you know, but whom you know” applies.
Everyone needs an advocate to succeed. It simply can’t be done on your own: Bloggers don’t have successful blogs without readers who promote; authors don’t sell books without publishing houses and press outlets advocating the message; musicians don’t sell records without fans; employees don’t get promoted without the help of someone in a more senior position advocating on their behalf; husbands can’t be successful in demanding jobs without the full support of their wives and wives can’t be successful in their roles (at home or at work) without an active and engaged husband.
The power of an “Absolutely!” is without question one of the most life changing lessons I’ve learned in recent years.
As Brittany said, it’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.
(Thank you Brittany!)