What Your “Yeah, But…” Is Actually Saying

Blog | April 16, 2021

How many times have you gotten a “yeah, but…” back from a direct report or a stakeholder when trying to pitch a new idea or brainstorming solutions to a problem? How many times have you done it yourself? For example, “That’s a great idea, but we really couldn’t…” or “Yeah, but it wouldn’t work because…

Those “yeah buts…” are an important red flag. Every time I encounter a “yeah, but…” in my coaching with leaders, it is an indicator of internal resistance that is often a result of the leader’s fear.

The more work you do to understand where your resistance is coming from – instead of solving for the “yeah, buts…” – the more profound the change and the more powerful of a leader you become. This is one of the examples of the inner work we so often reference as a pillar of the MettaWorks method.

The “yeah, buts…” unfortunately do not just show up in your day-to-day leadership but also in public narratives.  A particular example of this can be found in the recent murder of Daunte Wright by Minnesota police officer, Kimberly Potter. So many reactions are related to “yeah, but he really should have complied” or “yeah, but he had outstanding warrants.”

There is no “yeah, but…” that can justify the murder of an unarmed individual with an expired registration. This is particularly true when, a white man – only weeks previously – after being responsible for the murder of several people in Atlanta, was able to be arrested without harm by the police officers involved.

The more antiracism work I do myself the clearer it becomes that antiracism work is a vital layer of the inner work we need to do to become the kind of leader we want to be.

At its core antiracism work is deep inner work. It reveals belief systems that we assume are true and brings into question the harmful assumptions we are making without even realizing it.

I am not an anti-racism facilitator or coach.


I am a leadership facilitator and coach. I not only believe, but I have seen first-hand, that the way to become an incredibly powerful leader is to do the inner work on our own limiting patterns of behavior and belief systems, including around race and racism.

I invite you to start noticing your “yeah, but…” thought patterns, in your day-to-day workplace interactions as well as your reactions to race-related news reports.

Notice them. Get curious about them. Challenge the reality of the assumptions those thoughts are making. See what arises as a result.

Rachel Rider
Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant