A significant part of being able to react quickly to a situation that has gone unexpectedly or in brainstorming solutions to problems is staying in an agile mindset. One powerful tool that can improve this state of mind is the “Yes, and” role playing exercise.
“Yes, and” is a fundamental principle in Improv acting that encourages active listening, building upon the ideas of others, and creating a positive and collaborative environment. The exercise is simple: Two or more people role play a conversation, and whenever one participant makes a statement, the other(s) respond with “yes, and” before adding their own thoughts or ideas to the conversation… making sure to incorporate at least some part of the statement that the first participant provided.
Here’s how to do the “yes, and” exercise in Improv acting:
- Gather a group of participants and choose a roleplay or situation to role play out.
- Begin the roleplay and have the participants take turns making statements.
- Whenever one person makes a statement, the other(s) should respond with “yes, and” before adding their own thoughts or ideas to the conversation that include elements of the last person’s statement.
- The participants should continue to build upon each other’s ideas and statements, creating a fluid and dynamic conversation.
- Practice this exercise for several minutes, until the roleplay feels complete, or the entire group collapses in laughter (not an uncommon outcome).
To make up a good answer to this exercise, participants should always be present in the roleplay and in the moment, actively listening to their roleplay partners and looking for ways to build upon their ideas. They should also be open to new possibilities and be willing to take risks in their responses. It’s also important to keep in mind the roleplay and the actual role that you are playing.
The “yes, and” exercise is an important skill in life because it encourages active listening, collaboration, and positivity. By responding with “yes, and” instead of “no, but,” individuals are able to accept and build upon the ideas of others, rather than shutting them down. This leads to a more dynamic and creative conversation, and a more positive and productive work environment.
The “Yes, and” exercise is an exciting (and often hilarious) Improv skill that is exceptional for helping participants develop a nimble mindset and find creative solutions in a collaborative manner. It’s also an important skill to be practiced in life when faced with personal challenges. Add this fun exercise to the start of your next training program or brainstorm session and see what a difference it makes in uncovering solutions.