I recently came across the phrase “don’t yuck my yum” in a third grade classroom. I had to ask what it meant. The explanation that I got went something like this: If you tell me that you like Pokémon cards and I say that Pokémon cards are stupid, I am yucking your yum.
At first glance, it seems pretty straightforward. I might translate it to “Don’t rain on my parade.” Whether it’s a yum or a parade, we don’t like people belittling us for liking something. I found a great video about the effects of childhood yucking-someone’s-yum here. We are shaming and shoulding on others when we yuck their yum. Not cool.
However, I am a curious and cantankerous person by nature, and I began thinking about all the angles of yucking a yum. Does that mean that I cannot express an opinion about something that you like if I don’t share your enthusiasm? Must I pretend to like what you like so I don’t hurt your feelings?
I’m afraid that I am guilty of yucking a lot of yums if stating that I don’t like something fits the criteria. To me, I am stating a fact. You like it, I don’t. No big deal. A friend and fellow coach confirmed my feeling on the issue. She said, “Sometimes I tell you about a recipe that I like, and you say that it has too many steps and ingredients for you to do it. I know that you don’t like to cook, and I don’t feel like you are inferring that my recipe is bad or that you disapprove of my liking to cook.”
However, not everyone is a fellow coach who doesn’t take things personally. I can see how a sensitive person or a person who doesn’t know me well could feel that I’m yucking their yum when I state that I don’t like something. I am going to be a little more aware of how I share my opinions in the future, but I do believe that we are all entitled to our feelings and opinions!
The difference is whether we are sharing how we feel about something or dissing the something in question. I can say that I don’t enjoy playing Pokémon, and that’s fine. I can say that Pokémon cards are stupid, not fun, and only babies play the game; that is not fine.
Another thing to consider is: Do we have to share our opinions all the time? Must I tell you what I like and don’t like? We can build positive relationships by being curious about a topic, even if we don’t like it ourselves. I could ask, “What is your favorite Pokémon card?” or “What is the best part of playing the game?” I might find I could like it more than I initially thought. I don’t have to tell the person that I don’t care for it right off the bat.
So let’s go to the other extreme: I really like you, and I’m trying to build a relationship with you, so I never yuck your yum or tell you that I don’t like stuff that you like. I am not being authentic. In fact, I could be misleading you quite a bit about who I am. If you like to hike and I just go along with you in order to be with you, there may eventually come a time when I’m tired of pretending and tell you that I don’t like to hike. You would probably be surprised and a little hurt that I had, not lied exactly, but not been totally honest.
From a leadership and relationship perspective, yucking someone’s yum is like most leadership and relationship concepts – it requires awareness of the situation, emotional intelligence, and some good judgment. Most of the time if someone is telling us about something that they like, we can just get curious and ask questions. If they ask us to join them, then we can state that, although it’s wonderful that they like it so much, we would not be interested. Not yucking someone’s yum is a worthy goal – and it doesn’t mean that we must be inauthentic or not set boundaries.
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