How Adding 'Yes, And' To Your Vocabulary Can Open Up Your Mind To New POVs

Improv comedy might be the last thing you're thinking of when you head into a serious conversation or an involved work meeting, but, as it turns out, a skill from this quick-paced form of acting could actually help you reframe your responses and create a more collaborative environment, both personally and professionally. The "yes, and" approach is commonly seen in improv as a way to continue building scenes and support your acting partner throughout a skit. Instead of saying no on stage to a statement someone has made, which can shut down their ideas and interrupt the flow, you say "yes and" then add in your own ideas to continue building.


Saying yes to everything a coworker or partner throws at you might seem like a surefire path to becoming a doormat, but it's actually more about validating others while still sharing your own perspective. Incorporating this skill into your daily life can have a myriad of benefits, far beyond its originally intended value in comedy.

'Yes, and' encourages creative thinking

When someone comes at us with a new idea we don't particularly agree with, our immediate response is often a simple "no." Sticking up for yourself and asserting your boundaries in serious situations is a skill in and of itself, and sternly shutting down people who try to take advantage of you is still incredibly important. In collaborative situations, however, it's also important to hear the other person out and suggest alternatives that work for both of you.


Take this situation as an example. You and your partner have been together for several years, and you're currently living in a cramped apartment that neither of you is particularly comfortable in. Your partner suggests moving, but you know you don't have the budget to buy a house. Instead of saying no immediately, say yes to the idea, and put in the effort to think of additional "and" steps that could actually make this idea a reality, like moving to a larger apartment or focusing more on building your savings as a couple.

'Yes, and' helps you validate others

One of the biggest benefits of the "yes, and" approach is that it allows others around you to feel heard. If someone comes to you with an idea and you shut it down, it can make them feel unimportant, even if you took the time to mull it over and decided that it wasn't feasible. The simple act of saying yes, even if it's just agreeing that the situation they're trying to remedy is a problem, can make a major difference in how the other person feels.


This approach can also give others the confidence to come to you with additional issues and ideas in the future because they know you're actually listening to their concerns. Reaching out to suggest a change or give your opinion can be intimidating, even in a healthy environment, so if a person feels consistently ignored or like their opinion isn't valued, they're unlikely to come forward again.

'Yes, and' allows you to assert your boundaries

The biggest concern in incorporating "yes, and" for many is that they'll find themselves agreeing to additional work or situations they don't feel comfortable with, but the opposite can actually be true. With this approach, you can simultaneously validate the other person's request while asserting your boundaries, leaving both parties with an overall positive opinion of the situation.


Say you're one of a few people on your team and your boss is consistently giving you new projects to work on despite the fact that your workload is already leaving you overwhelmed. Saying no could leave you feeling like you're in hot water with a higher-up, but just agreeing without further comment will only worsen the current situation. Going for the "yes, and" approach allows you to assert yourself in a positive way. You can say, "Yes, I agree that this new project is important, and I would love to take it on. Could we find a way to reorganize my workload so I could make this task a priority?" That's much gentler than a simple "No, I'm too busy."

'Yes, and' opens you up to more opportunities

Working alongside people that suggest changes with the "yes, and" method can open you up to more experiences and opportunities than if you were to just flat-out deny the suggestion. By carefully considering the ideas that people bring to you, you'll be more willing to try out ideas you might not have previously considered, from something as minor as stopping by a new restaurant for date night to completely revamping the workflow at your job.


Once you've been doing this approach for a while, the people around you will also begin to see you as someone willing to listen, compromise, and try out new ideas when necessary. Even if the first few things you "yes, and" are minor or are just acting as a way for you to assert your boundaries, you'll leave the impression that you're a go-getter, lining you up for more advantageous promotions and positive experiences.

'Yes, and' can be used to affirm yourself

The "yes, and" method isn't just for others — it can also be used for yourself. It's easy to get trapped in an internal negative feedback loop, but when you're facing a difficult situation, sometimes all it takes is a little reframing to inspire confidence in yourself. Switching from "no, I can't do it" to "yes, I can do it" is a simple first step, but adding in the "and" is where the magic really starts to happen.


When you add the "and," you have to follow up with reasons that you can face the task at hand, almost forcing you to shut down negative thoughts with cold, hard evidence. Say you're considering starting your own business. Shutting it off with "no, that's too difficult" or "no, people won't buy my products" is a surefire way to make zero progress. Instead, validate yourself. "Yes, starting my own business will be hard work, and I have the strength to pull it off."

'Yes, and' can give you a more positive perspective

Whether you're using the "yes, and" technique on yourself or on the people around you, you're likely to feel more positive and happy as a result. Recently, the idea of protecting your peace has become a mainstream phenomenon — saying no to nights out when you'd rather just stay in, refusing to give merit to senseless drama, cutting off so-called friends that drain you more than support you — and it's a fantastic strategy for people attempting to work on their people-pleasing ways. Unfortunately, however, it can go a little too far. "No" is still a complete sentence, but not every situation calls for such a quick shutdown.


"Yes, and" still gives you the power, but it's a more positive and collaborative approach. By making those around you feel good, you're sure to feel good about yourself too, and revamping your internal monologue to give yourself the same support you give others can seriously improve your confidence and mood.