“Yes and” works a lot better than no.

I posted this to my Facebook wall last week and received many concurrent responses:

It really bothers me when people who don’t understand an idea or issue jump to “no” instead of asking the right questions to make informed decisions. Shutting down thoughtful ideas and not trying to understand the root of an issue is entirely counterproductive.

I’ve been seeing this happen more and more. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, people everywhere do it. We say no because it’s easier; we don’t have to change our thought process or challenge our understanding of anything. But, saying no stifles creativity, inhibits trust, breeds negativity, and closes doors.

In improv, one of the key principles is to say yes and then contribute something else*. You don’t have to necessarily agree with the information or question posited to you, but it’s essential to recognize it as valid. You can ask questions to flesh it out more or mold the idea into version 2.0. Again, improv translates to ‘real life’; this is a technique we could all try to integrate more into our daily communications to be better both at work and in our personal lives.

If you take on the challenge of accepting and exploring the unknown, do share how it goes!

*For a really great explanation of yes and, check out this excerpt from Tina Fey’s book Bossypants.

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