The Power of the Word “Yet”

Suppose your boss pulls you aside and tells you: “You don’t have the right skills for the project.”

Then suppose a different situation, where your boss tells you: “You don’t have the right skills for the project, yet” or “You don’t yet have the connections to make this deal happen.”

The word yet makes all the difference in the world. In the first example, you feel like a dud. In the examples with “yet,” you feel like you may not be ready now, but you could be in the future.

Carol Dweck, the Stanford professor who’s researched the idea of a “growth mindset,”elaborates:

By [using the word "yet"] we give people a time perspective. It creates the idea of learning over time. It puts the other person on that learning curve and says, “Well, maybe you’re not at the finish line but you’re on that learning curve and let’s go further.” It’s such a growth mindset word.

As Chris Yeh points out, when you’re mentoring or helping someone, you want to emphasize the idea of on-going improvement. He offers two more “yet” examples:

“You haven’t been able to find a replicable sales model…yet. But each program your startup tried has taught you something, and you’re refining your approach.”

“You haven’t been able to play that violin piece without mistakes…yet. But every time you practice, you’re getting a little better.”

Bottom Line: Next time you need to criticize or offer feedback to a colleague, add the word “yet” — and you’ll be encouraging a growth mindset.

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A single word can carry an entire thought. In a previous LinkedIn post, I noted that basketball coach Gregg Popovich inspired his players to work hard with the phrase “I want some nasty.” The word “nasty” brings the idea to life.

(Originally posted on LinkedIn)

One Response to The Power of the Word “Yet”

  1. Bill Seitz says:

    JerryWeinberg uses the phrase “up until now”.
    http://webseitz.fluxent.com/wiki/UpUntilNow

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