This tool comes from the world of improv, which encourages their participants to always respond with “Yes, and”. In improv, as in life, you are not strolling along in isolation but are reacting to those around you. Oftentimes, you are offered situations that leave you flummoxed. You may not have a clue what to say or do to continue the thread, let alone to do so in a meaningful way.
Saying “No” and then leading the conversation a different way is simple. We don’t need to respond to what the others have said and done. We get to set off with our ideas and our thoughts.
We also shut down everyone else in the conversation.
If we instead respond with “Yes, and …” we open ourselves to possibilities. We tell everyone else we are interested in what they have to say. We show respect and appreciation for their contribution. And, we just may find ourselves coming up with ideas we never would have thought of otherwise.
This, in turn, encourages everyone else to do the same!
The conversation may evolve in a completely nonsensical way. It may not make sense, for awhile, or ever. As when we invoke the Rule of Three and struggle to come up with that third option, taking on the challenge of “Yes, and” tends to open the floodgates of creativity.
The next time you’re tempted to shut something down, try instead responding “Yes, and” and see what happens!