Last Updated on August 4, 2017 by karwisch

Culture is a balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined create either pleasure or pain, serious momentum or miserable stagnation. –Shawn Parr

I work in a culture of Yes-and. It is how I approach my life and my relationships. Yes-and is how I make my decisions and how I (when I am at my best) interact with my child.

In an improv scene, Yes-and guides us to accept what our scene partner is saying or doing and then adding to it. Yes=accept. And=add. Yes, you are a robot, and I am an inventor.

So what exactly does it mean to have a culture of Yes-and? For starters, “Yes” is not about Agreement, it is about Acceptance. Acceptance of things as they are, without any spin or shade, without the stories we tell ourselves to cope with hurt or fear, and without agenda. Next, ‘Yes” is about non-judgement. We accept people for who they are and we accept situations for what they are. “Yes” creates connection and flow.

When we say yes to things, we are not saying “I agree with you” we are saying “I am listening to you, I care, and you can trust me.” The “yes” in Yes-and is the start to anything great. I accept you. I am here and present with you. You are safe and you can share with me without fear. “Yes” creates safety and trust.

The “and” in Yes-and is the action. Because I accept you, and I am open to what is happening: I am able to clarify, add, illuminate, direct, plan and strategize with you by making small shifts in the idea or adding to the idea’s overall power and scope. With enough of a relationship built, we can help others find the gaps in their own ideas without pointing at the flaw and saying “bad idea.” Unfortunately, if we lack the acceptance and the trust of “yes”, the influence of “and” becomes very difficult to achieve. “And” allows for influence. 

I work directly with a wonderful yes-ander by the name of Allison Gilmore. Because both of us are consistently working with acceptance, non-judgement, and influence, we get a lot done, the right way, usually the first time, and in little time. If we at any time step into an area where our fear or miscommunication causes us to react negatively, we are able to find our way back to dialogue quickly by focusing back on the “yes” again.

Yes-and is not perfect. It is also not a cure-all. It is an approach to relationships, to ideas, to goals, and to their outcomes. The nice thing is that it does not need to be perfect. It is a self-healing and self-correcting process. When we create an environment where trust is possible and safety is assured we can find our way back to each other easily and with grace.

The great Yes-and lettering at the top of the page was created by 

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