Changing My Life One “Yes, And” At A Time

About a year ago I was going through a phase where I found myself with a lot of free time and not much to do. I would come back from work, watch TV, read a book or do something similar to kill time.

I have always been fascinated with comedy and specifically a form of known as Improv Comedy. This is not your standard Stand Up Comedy that you might be used to — this is a form of comedy where everything is made up on the spot. No scripts, no pre-planned ideas. You and your fellow improvisers create comedy scenes right on the spot.

You might have seen “Whose Line Is It Anyway”, if not, do watch it.

I enrolled myself in an Improv workshop and at the cost of sounding clichéd, it changed my life. I began to learn the art of improv and worked towards becoming a good improviser. My learning’s in Improv helped me in both my professional life and my personal life.

Improv runs on some basic rules and the biggest rule is: “YES, AND”. The easiest way to explain this rule is to divide it into two parts — the “YES” part and the “AND” part. The YES part means that a situation is given to you,so fully accept that situation for what it is. Don’t question it, don’t fight it, accept it. You might love the situation or might hate it, but now you are in the situation. Acceptance helps us move along. Once we have done that we add the AND part, this drives us towards building on the situation.

Let me show you by an example. If I was to start a scene with and my fellow improviser told me I was in a car and my reaction would be: “Nah I not in a car but I am on the moon”, we have both disagreed and we are now at a stalemate. We are on different pages and hence the scene can’t move forward because we will be fighting over where we are. If I say Yes to his offer I can build on the scene by saying “YES I am in a car AND the Air Conditioner is not working”. We now have a scene because we’ve been able to move forward.

I started using the “YES, AND” rule to all aspects of my life and I found that I was able to deal with all kinds of situations with more perspective. I stopped having knee jerk reactions, I became more collaborative, I became calmer and a lot more patient. My productivity increased and my communication improved. I’m able to build more and obstruct less.

So the next time you feel stuck in a situation try the “YES, ANDing”, it may just help.