The Power of "Yes, and" in the Workplace.

By: Meg Cotiguala

KemperLesnik recently held its annual All Hands conference, a day we set aside to take a step back and refresh our thinking on how we can be better and do better as an agency and for our clients. To that end, we hosted Second City’s Tara DeFrancisco and her improv troupe to arm us with some simple tools to improve communication and foster creativity. One time-honored improv technique in particular – the ‘Yes, and’ – stood out. Why? Here’s a few reasons:

1.       Reduce barriers and increase acceptance – When you build up your colleagues and clients by saying ‘Yes, and’ they will be more open to sharing their ideas with you and, in turn, accepting yours. What’s more, ‘Yes, and’ also helps breaks down emotional barriers. That is, in the workplace we can be so focused on sticking to what we know is certain that we fall short of tuning in to the emotion of a conversation, colleague or situation.  Using this tool breaks down any emotional negativity by fostering acceptance and positivity. 

2.       Unleash creativity – the antithesis of ‘Yes, and’ is ‘No, because,’ and it’s what many workers respond with when presented with something new or out-of-the-box. That’s because we as adults are programmed to be practical and so naturally tend to look for reasons for why something won’t work. However, if you’re constantly saying ‘no, because’, you shut the creative process down before it even gets going. It takes effort to shift your mindset to ‘Yes, and’, but doing so can have great benefits as you never know what grand ideas will come out of free-flow conversations.

3.       Foster adaptability – the very nature of working in an agency demands that we be adaptable. Every day is different, and rarely what you expect! Using ‘Yes, and’ helps you learn to be more flexible as it requires you to actively listen to what your colleagues and clients are saying and quickly think on your feet to build upon it, rather than stay rigid to your own ideas.

Don’t be fooled, going to an improve show is great for some laughs, but its usefulness goes beyond the stage. Using improv techniques in the workplace, particularly ‘Yes, and’, have tangible positive benefits on our interactions with colleagues and clients.  

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