NO is a powerful word in business. It usually marks the end of a conversation, idea, or pitch, and leaves both parties with little direction.
Improv comedy relies on agreement. We teach our performers that saying “Yes and…” rather than “No” allows them to explore an idea rather than put up a road block. Agreement gives all parties a chance to move forward and better reach their destination collaboratively.
That doesn’t mean mindlessly agreeing to every idea that comes across your desk. Here are 5 key things that occur after you say “Yes”:
- You allow the other person to further explain – Nothing shuts down innovation like the word “No.” Sometimes a suggestion will come to you that doesn’t jive with personal feelings. That doesn’t mean the idea is wrong. An immediate and qualified yes to a suggestion opens a dialog, and allows both you and the person who suggested it an opportunity to find where the disconnect lives.
- You give yourself the gift of perspective – Imagine what your life would be like if someone on your team came and gave you three new great ideas every day. That maybe sounds impossible, but it is even less likely if you are someone who shoots ideas down before turning them over.
- The other person views you as a helper – I want you to think of the person on your team who you are most likely to bring an idea to. Now I want you to think of the qualities of that person that cause you to enjoy working with them. Have they gone with your ideas before? Have they worked on problems with you, rather than shut you down at the jump? Are they a “collaborator”?
- You open a dialog to convey your feelings – No is an ending to conversation. No is the last part of the dialog. Even though I’m promoting the idea of agreement, I want to stress – sometimes “No” is the right answer. However, by accepting the suggestion and allowing conversation to continue, you are giving yourself an opportunity to explore the idea and convey your opinions. Even if the idea is the worst idea ever, you now have an opportunity to explain why so your teammate understands.
- You allow yourself to learn – Don’t underestimate the power of your team. An attitude of Yes will cause you to have more meaningful conversations about what matters most to you and your coworker. The information that follows in that conversation is more important than it seems.
PHIT Corporate has been using the concept of saying “Yes” as a core part of our applied improvisation teaching for over a decade and we’ve seen first-hand the results this shift in thinking can have for teams – in the way they communicate, the way they brainstorm, and the way they work together. Almost every workshop we run spends at least a little time talking about “Yes, and…” because it is a foundation of everything else we do.
“Agreement is about getting on the same page as the idea: Where did it come from and what problem is trying to address? Approaching from that angle often leads to the most productive conversation,” says PHIT Corporate Facilitator David Donnella. “The important thing is to agree to the parameters that created the idea, and to try and understand the context. Without accepting that we’ve reached this point, we can never really explore what the moment itself means to us and we certainly can’t move forward.”
To see how David and the other facilitators can help your team, department, or entire office harness the power of yes to change the way you work, reach out to us and let’s collaborate together on a workshop!