Improvisation teams train and practice together, building trust and confidence in one another for that moment in front of the audience. One technique used by great improv teams is ‘Yes, And…” It works like this: whenever one person makes a statement, regardless of how bizarre, the next person responds in a way that does two things:
- agrees with the first statement
- is additive to the dialogue
When life presents us with choices, we have two options: say ‘No’ and be rewarded with safety; or say ‘Yes’ and be faced with an adventure.
To preserve our precious time and energy, we often default to ‘No.’ Yet this only closes doors, while ‘Yes’ opens up possibilities – albeit sometimes in unpredictable or undesirable ways. The power of ‘And’ is it creates space in the dialogue to clarify, probe, set boundaries, qualify, or serve other needs. This seductively simple turn of phrase can open the doors to improved collaboration and better relationships. ‘Yes, and’ helps us get from where we are, as an individual or organization, to where we want to be. (Sometimes I wonder what would happen if ‘Yes, and’ was required in our national, state, and local political discussions.)
There’s another benefit to responding with ‘Yes, and’. It keeps the conversation going and sends a message that honors the other person. Rather than closing them down and shutting off the communication line, ‘Yes, and’ signals the sender that I may have more to contribute or even a different perspective altogether, yet I appreciate and respect you in this dialogue of ours. This helps bridge gaps, reduce divisiveness, and enhance collaboration.
To learn more, check out the Applied Improv Network.