Applied Improv Principles: Yes, And...

In the article What is Applied Improv? I discussed seven principles of improv that apply in the work environment. Here I expand on the concept of "Yes, And..." Yes, And... is as simple as the using the phrase “Yes, and...” in responding to others as a way to build on their ideas and expand them. It is also the term used to describe the concept of accepting what other say and enhancing, expanding, and building on that idea to move things forward. This is in contrast to “Yes, But” and “No” which stop collaboration and forward momentum.

Yes, And makes you more positive. It can filter into all aspects of your life. This is talked about extensively in the book Improv Wisdom * by Patricia Ryan Madson. She offers this experiment in the first chapter on Yes:

For one day say yes to everything that's offered. Set your own preferences aside. Notice the results. See how often it may not be convenient or easy to do this. Obviously, use common sense in executing this rule. If you are a diabetic and are offered a big piece of pie, you'll need to find a way to protect your health. Perhaps you can say boldly, "Yes, I'd love to have this pie to take home to my son who adores cherries."

It's good for everyone including to yourself. It can be surprising how often we tell ourselves NO once you become aware of it. Take notice of for the rest today how many times you say yes to yourself vs. how many times you say no.

* Madson, Patricia Ryan 2001. improv wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just Show Up