I attended a great session by Bridget Quigg, a creativity coach during the Microsoft Inspire Partner conference this month on Design Thinking. The session was around effective communication and once of the skills Bridget explained was “yes, and…..“.
I found it very valuable, so this is my take on the concept “yes..and”. This is something we can look to implement in the way we act and respond to people (personally and professionally), our interactions in meetings, decisions and discussions.
Start with Yes!
When someone says something; a statement, question, suggestion, when you respond with yes, it acknowledges and supports what they have said. This in turn drives the conversation and engages more discussion. People love to hear yes and feel valued when they do. It puts a positive slant on things.
Using “Yes, and” adds the next dimension. It is an improvisation technique often used in acting. It requires the actors, to go with the flow, and improvise their responses around answering yes, to their fellow actor and build from there with an improvised answer.
This same technique works wonderfully in the business world (or at home for that matter). By answering yes, and then adding in “and” will allow you to expand your thoughts into other possibilities. You automatically start thinking about the solution, what you can do, to make something happen, how you can add value.
You can contribute to the idea being presented and become part of it. For example, during a project meeting a colleague suggests we incorporate a certain business unit in the pilot. Your answer could be to acknowledge, disagree or you could say. “Yes, and we could suggest they lead the X phase, by doing Y“. By adding “and” you are constructively adding your ideas into the discussion and improving the overall communication. This encourages lateral thinking.
Sometimes this is harder to do, as you need to improvise the answers yourself, challenge yourself to think of new ideas to add to your “and”. That challenge does however prompt innovation.
Then there are the people who use the YES, but follow it with a ‘but’! How many times have you heard yourself doing this with kids, or your partner or colleagues? “Can we go to the park?”, “Yes, but it will have to wait until…or not today….“.
“Yes, but” sabotages the idea or statement. When you use “yes, but” you bring up every reason why not, rather than why. In business meetings this can display a pessimistic outlook and makes it harder to keep engagement. It can even become patronizing – “yes, (I agree with your statement), but, I think we should do it this way…. (I really don’t agree)”. Repeated use of “but” can cause resistance, given the negative connotation. It is taxing on the rest of the team and blocks communication.
This can stifle change and progress.
Listen to yourself. Try to simply change your language and see how much it impacts your thinking! It is a mindset shift 🙂