We have all had the experience of “My way” versus “Your way.” I say “Yes” to my way and “No” to your way.

This approach tends to divide us and prevents us from discovering meaningful and beneficial possibilities.

When my nephew Nick was in high school, he participated in an improvisation class where he practiced a principle known as “Yes, And.” When Person A makes a statement, Person B responds by accepting Person A’s statement (the “yes” part) and then builds on it further (the “and” part).

This strategy reverses “Yes/No,” “Yes, But,” or “No, But” thinking and improves creativity and collaboration.“Yes, And” encourages us to be fully present in order to explore possibilities.

A wise father recently shared an effective way of using YES, AND with his son.

Allen has never been a kid that is concerned with consequences or punishment. If he sets his mind to something, we can fight him tooth and nail to oppose it, but he’ll keep going until he gets his own way. We’ve learned to use his momentum in a positive way, to keep him moving in the direction of his intent but get what we need or want from him in the process.

What doesn’t work with Allen:

Allen: I want to go to the science fair. 

Teacher: No, you need to catch up on your work. 

Allen: I’m going anyway.  

Teacher threatens Allen with punishment, but Allen doesn’t care. 

Teacher is then stuck with no options and either punishes him or loses authority, but the punishment doesn’t mean anything to Allen. 

What does work with Allen: YES, AND 

Allen: I want to go to the science fair. 

Teacher: Yes, that sounds like a great idea for you. You can go after you complete one      assignment, and then please finish another when you get back. 

Allen: Do I have to? 

Teacher: Yes, but it will not take long and then you can go see the cool science projects. If you     finish both assignments first, you can pick a classmate to go with you. 

Allen: Okay.

Rather than saying ‘no’ immediately, the answer is ‘yes’ and builds from there. Allen is very responsive if he hears the yes. Then the teacher can craft the next part to build what the teacher needs but still give Allen that positive momentum. A NO typically slams on the brakes for Allen and then he digs in his heals. 

It’s not hard to imagine the ongoing battles a teacher will have with Allen following the first scenario. However, the future provides more enjoyable possibilities for both the student and teacher following the “Yes, And” scenario.

Watch for those situations this week in which you can practice the ‘Yes, And’ strategy. You can probably identify those situations when you feel an initial desire to say ‘No.’

From our Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody…whose ‘Yes, And’ thinking keeps moving us toward greater possibilities.

Paul Bernabei, Director
Top 20 Training