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Yes and!

Nathan Boutwell's picture
Business Unit Manager , Powerline Training Consultants

Accomplished safety & learning leader with a successful history of creating culture change through application of safety differently and HOP (HP) principles to help create a safer and more...

  • Member since 2022
  • 12 items added with 1,036 views
  • Dec 30, 2022

What tools do you give your leaders to help drive positive communications? We use several communication tools, one of them is “Yes, and”. I learned “yes, and” from improvisational comedy. It helps move conversations along and keep the conversation positive.

In an organizational setting, saying "Yes" in theory encourages people to listen and be receptive to the ideas of others. Rather than immediately judging the idea, one should initially accept the idea, which enables the discussion to expand on the idea without limitations. The next step in the process is to add new information into the narrative, hence the phrase "Yes, and!"

Practicing this also helps us understand how adaptation and experimentation happens in normal work. It also allows us to learn more about where the other person is coming from than if we had started with no.

Have you tried Yes, and? If so how did it work for you?

Check out the video from Big Think for more about “yes, and” as a tool.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Dec 30, 2022

love the connection between improv and leadership. There are more parallels than you'd think at first glance!

Nathan Boutwell's picture
Nathan Boutwell on Jan 3, 2023

Yes there are! The whole basis that you are accepting what the person offers and then adding to it to advance the conversation is powerful. I find it helps people pause and think about how to respond in the positive. A key tool for leaders! 

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Jan 4, 2023

Yes, that is a great way to start a productive interaction. Saying No right away stops all listening and becomes a debate on who is right not on what is the best thing to do. 

Nathan Boutwell's picture
Nathan Boutwell on Jan 5, 2023

Thanks for commenting, it is a great build on the theme!

I love using general topics to get people used to the idea of the using this tool. One of my favorites is to take an example like sports, find out what they like or follow and then use that. If they like baseball I may open with "Ice Hockey is more fun to watch than baseball". From there we get to practice Yes and with a topic that is safe. 


Henry Craver's picture
Henry Craver on Jan 6, 2023

I remember a French woman who'd been living in America for sometime observing that Americans start statements with "yes" where as the French start with "no". Maybe that explains the Hexagon's anemic economic growth over the past 15 years or so.  

Nathan Boutwell's picture
Nathan Boutwell on Jan 6, 2023

Hi Henry - Could be, economics isn't my I'm not sure.

Nathan Boutwell's picture
Thank Nathan for the Post!
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