what happens if you say ‘yes, and…’ (instead of ‘no’)?

sally schneider

After Scott McDowell attended a class in theatrical improvising with Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, he faced a quandery: how to reconcile a basic tenet of productivity – saying “No” and setting limits – with the essential principle of improvising – saying “Yes, and…”.

“Yes, and” is a protocol that allows for anything to happen, and it goes like this: No matter what your fellow actors present to you, instead of negating it, belittling it, or disagreeing with it, your job is to say, “Yes, and…”  Accept the scenario as it’s presented to you (regardless of where you wanted it to go), and then to add to it. 

Having found this excercise compelling, McDowell decided to see what happened if he practiced “Yes, and…” in the “real” world of work, family and obligations for 24 hours. He summed them up recently in a post on 99%. Although he found saying “Yes, and…” doesn’t work all the time, it is a powerful tool. Our favorite revelation:

Each moment is a tiny explosion of possibility. The practice of improvising my life is a reminder that each moment is a tiny choice. I’m responding or reacting to what comes at me every minute and every second of the day. There’s possibility inherent in literally every single moment. It’s intense. Those small moments add up to a lifetime.

via 99%

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