In theatre, there’s a very important person called the technical director. Her job is to implement and execute the creations of the designers and director—she can recite the inventory backwards and forwards, manages the work crew, and knows exactly how much it will cost to cut that cargo van in half and get it on your stage.
A stereotype of the technical director is that it can seem like their job is say “no.” No matter what you ask, their answer is “Nope, we can’t do that.” And you can see why this happens—the artistic staff is having a great time creating what their imaginations see, and the technical director has to bring everyone back down to earth.
I’ve seen a lot of that reflexive naysaying, in theatre and elsewhere. (And to be clear, technical directors are miracle workers, and of course many of them delight in saying YES! Stereotypes be damned.)
My question is this: when “no” is the first thing we think and say, what are we protecting? What is at risk if we say, “actually, maybe yes”? How can we think about what is being asked or offered in a way that opens up possibilities instead of shutting them down?