There’s an improvisational exercise called “Yes, And.”
One actor presents an idea, and the other actors build on that one idea by saying, “Yes! And…”
“Let’s go to the park.”
“Yes! And when we get there, let’s ride our bikes.”
They string together an improv scene, born of the blend of ideas and the cohesion of thoughts – one stacked on top of another.
The idea is to keep the scene going by agreeing and adding to. No blocks or disagreements.
This is not to say that there are is no conflict; every good story has one.
Conflict might look like this:
“Let’s go to the park!”
“Yes! And when we get there, we should ride bikes! Oh, no… I just remembered my bike has a flat tire.”
“Well, I guess we’ll need to stop by the bike fixit shop on the way!”
“Yes! That’s a great idea! And maybe I’ll buy a new horn for my bike, too!”
There is no, “We can’t go. It’s raining.”
Or, “I can’t fix your bike. I’m not good with my hands.”
It’s yes, and.
There is no choice. There is no “this or that.” There is this and that.
It’s yes, and.
This improv exercise is actually a pretty good approach for conversational conflict management. If you can exercise the muscle of seeing the good in what someone else says, in adding to their idea to make it better or even feasible, then you can add credibility to conversations and encouragement to friendships. It’s really a pretty great tactic.
I’ve been thinking about this “Yes, And” as I write through this season of my life, as I answer the questions that are born in conversation, in my thoughts, on my dark days and my sparkling ones.
“Tricia, it’s horrible what has happened to your family.”
Yes, and we are becoming stronger.
“But don’t you question God?”
Yes, and I believe he is sovereign in ways I cannot understand.
“But don’t you get angry?”
Yes, and I’m honest about it.
“But he died too soon.”
Yes, and he was in my life for twelve beautiful, complete years.
Yes, and I will find meaning in it.
It’s “Yes, and.” It’s both.
It isn’t, “Oh, but I’m finding meaning in it, so it doesn’t suck.” No, it still sucks.
It’s “Yes, and.”
Yes, we are a tricycle, and we are strong and mobile.
Yes, my life split to pieces, and now I know that I’m a crazy strong girl.
Yes, he’s gone, and I’ll see him again.
Yes, it was the worst ever, and I survived.
Yes, my children don’t have their dad, and they have a damn good mom.
Yes, my children have learned a degree of loss far earlier than many of us ever have to, and they have a deep understanding of life and death and what matters and God is faithful.