Joanne Love

My Blog

The danger of having ‘YES’ friends.



“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too?

– C.S. Lewis


Having friends is awesome, especially if your friends encourage, inspire or just help keep you focused in life.  When things go wrong, it is your friends, who can help provide the emotional support to get you through those trials and tribulations. Some of these benefits include having a shoulder to cry on or allowing us time to unload some of our stress. The importance of friends can never be underestimated, but there is one hidden danger that many of us aren’t aware of – if all your friends are ‘YES’ people.



‘YES’ friends are those who agree with you, whether it be a complaint or a whinge. These friends have the same beliefs, think the same way and do the same things, so, of course, they will agree with you every time. There is a theory that says we only have a limited number of friendship positions. Through evolution, and as part of this count, we form close ties with at least one person who can get us out of trouble when the need be. One place goes to a person who is like-minded, and one who we feel would be difficult to replace. We also know that it is our similarity to others which becomes the driver for our future interactions. We will continue to build relationships if our reaction feels comfortable. Furthermore, it will be strengthened if we feel trust and have cooperation.


There is a danger that these friends also have the power to limit our potential.


What we don't realise is those agreeable friends can hinder our efforts to achieve outcomes. They can obstruct transformation and in some cases, limit our learning.


“When all think alike, then no one is thinking.”

– Walter Lippmann


Our friendship groups also have the power to influence our decision-making, with many poor or incorrect choices. With our desire to maintain unity and alignment it is easy to see why. Researchers have found that people in tight groups who are like-minded, make wrong decisions to stay aligned with the group. This phenomenon has been labelled Groupthink. Not only does it result in poor decision choices, but also a loss innovation and independent thinking.


Sorry ladies - it gets even worse for you. Women were studied in their friendship groups by analysing their neural activity. As part of this study, women were asked to choose between a cooperative or competitive strategy with their friends. It was found that most women choose the cooperative strategy and when they did, their brains lit up brightly in the ‘joy’ area. Even more surprising to scientists was the even brighter lit 'joy' area when cooperation lasted longer.


For women, this promotes a higher distortion of the truth to occur. For instance, men are not the greatest supporters of women having a whinge, believing if they allow it once, it will often be repeated. A male will usually respond by being curt, sarcastic, and work to constrain the conversation. Women will see this rejection from the male as being uncaring, distant, or even hostile, and will look elsewhere to get the support - a woman friend. The worst part about the ensuing conversation is the potentially negative tornado created.


I am not advocating for you to drop your friends, but if all your friends are ‘YES’ people, here is what you can do.

  1. Question – Before presenting your question, ask if they were in your shoes what would they do?
  2. Challenge – Why do they agree with you?
  3. Explore – Look further afield and ask someone outside your friendship group.


Through my change of career, it is noticeable how the changes to my friendship group have served me well. The diverse views, opinions, and experiences have allowed my learning to grow in response.


Mentors provide another avenue to aid progression. They will have a greater vision for us than we have for ourselves. They have an unwavering confidence in your ability, seeing you achieving more, quickly.


Find people who will argue with you, challenge your beliefs and the way you do things. When things don't go how you like, don't go to your ‘YES’ friends, but find people who can push you, inspire you and help you realise your full potential.





 Joanne Love is known internationally for delivering thinking that is "out of the box." As an elite swimming coach, Joanne has experienced first hand what it's like to be one of the few females in a male dominated environment. Joanne has represented Australia at the highest level, including inclusion on the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Teams. These experiences led Joanne into obtaining a degree in psychology and now works with differing sporting organisations to maximise performance at all levels.


To enquire about Joanne speaking at your next event, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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