Tag Archives: communication

Yes And — The Power of Language

Yes And is a technique that is taught in improvisational acting and in communications courses.

In improv, an actor begins supplying some bit of information that helps to create the scene. They may say to another actor “Looks like we’re in for a bad storm.” This is called an offer and the other actor’s job is to accept the offer and support their scene partner. They might say “Yes and I hope that the road doesn’t flood.” The opposite of accepting the offer is blocking, for example, contradicting the offer, which stops the flow of the scene.

Here are a couple of videos that demonstrate this technique:

The Improv Yes-And Rule

The Yes-And Technique

Yes And as a communication technique is meant to raise awareness of when we are dismissive of the ideas of other people. For example, Chris says “We could hire a virtual assistant to handle all the routine work that is using up all of our time.” Lee says “Yes but we’d have to spend time training a VA in how we want things done.”

The “but” in that reply can feel like a rejection of the original idea. Can’t you just hear Chris say “You’re always so negative. How are  we ever going to get out from under if we don’t do anything?”

If Lee said “Yes and we’d have to spend time training a VA in how we want things done.” The conversation might continue in a similar vein. “Yes and we could start the VA in stages to break up the time drain.” Or even “Yes and we’d want to think of a way to minimize the disruption.”

Use the “Yes And” method to acknowledge and accept another’s suggestion and build on it.

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Collaborating with a muse

For the last 10 days I have become friends with a new muse.  In her Muse-Swap blog, Quinn McDonald offered me the opportunity to trade my regular muse in for a new one.  I actually didn’t even know that I had a muse but after thinking about how intensely I have been working,  I decided I in fact have been selectively listening to one of my muses, the slave-driver.  My slave-driver voice has made me too serious and obsessed with work.  Once I really thought about it I decided I needed a break from my own intensity.  Quinn offered me the perfect swap – a muse who giggles!

Laughing Goat from ingridtaylar at Flickr Creative Commons

Giggles and I have had a ball together.  She encouraged me to impulsively plan a 6-day get-away, driving up the coast of Maine with my sweetheart. We’re heading out next week.  When my teen aged son and I were handed a worksheet in a personal development workshop we were attending ( I know…sounds like a relapse into seriousness, but oh well…can’t be perfect over night!), I uncharacteristically howled out loud when seeing one of the listed tips for good communication as “Have a goat in mind!”.  The typo was inadvertent I’m sure, but my son and I are determined to think about goats now as our code for lightening up when we are struggling to connect!

Don't be low on coolant! Photo by tsja!

I could further tell you how Giggles turned my car leaking coolant on the Saw Mill River Parkway into a funny reminder that I have to drink more water.  She also encouraged me to take my shoes off in a furniture showroom and stretch out with my sweetheart to see how comfortable a couch was we were considering as a purchase.  Giggles certainly made me daring as well as light-hearted!

Although today marks the end of the Muse Swap, I am not turning my new friend back.  I think our collaboration is long overdue and I intend to keep listening to her encouragement to stretch beyond my overly attentive work ethic to have some fun.  As is true for many good collaborators, Giggles reminds me that sometimes we have to partner with others who are really different than our natural selves in order to find the answers we seek.   I may not be done being serious-minded, but I sure am going to listen for Giggles more often.  Thanks to Quinn and my muse-swap buddy for this fun time!