Like everyone, I want people to laugh with me, not at me. Because I wasn’t always feeling like I landed the jokes in the way I wanted to, I signed up for Improv classes for the better part of a year. Not only were the classes fun, but in terms of my relationships with people and colleagues, it was paradigm shifting for one main reason. The idea of “Yes, and…” or in other words, “if this is true, what else is true?” It’s a phrase I carry with me into every conversation, with friends, family, and especially work colleagues. It is the single most effective approach to building positive relationships, work environment and idea generation.
“Yes, and…” is a concept that builds on an existing truth. In entertainment, it takes the jokes to a more ridiculous place. In business, it opens up new ways of thinking for all parties involved. For example, during the Olympics coverage, Jimmy Fallon used the Yes, and… concept to build humor around the fact that Bob Kostas had pink eye in both eyes. “He took the red eye,” he joked. “He thought he was interviewing Sean White but really it was a mop in a closet.”
In the same way “Yes, and…” is key to improv, it’s equally helpful with co-workers or clients. If we are brainstorming, the “Yes, and…” approach creates collaboration. If someone is stuck in their own ideas, the “Yes, and…” approach removes the competition. No combat escalates, and work environment becomes both positive and productive.
So the next time you feel stuck in a meeting or want to move forward in a conversation with your spouse, try “Yes, and…”