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Yes, And.


There’s an improvisational exercise called “Yes, And.”

One actor presents an idea, and the other actors build on that one idea by saying, “Yes!  And…”

For example,

“Let’s go to the park.”
“Yes!  And when we get there, let’s ride our bikes.”

They string together an improv scene, born of the blend of ideas and the cohesion of thoughts – one stacked on top of another.

The idea is to keep the scene going by agreeing and adding to.  No blocks or disagreements.

This is not to say that there are is no conflict; every good story has one.

Conflict might look like this:

“Let’s go to the park!”
“Yes!  And when we get there, we should ride bikes!  Oh, no… I just remembered my bike has a flat tire.”
“Well, I guess we’ll need to stop by the bike fixit shop on the way!”
“Yes!  That’s a great idea!  And maybe I’ll buy a new horn for my bike, too!”

There is no, “We can’t go.  It’s raining.”
Or, “I can’t fix your bike.  I’m not good with my hands.”

It’s yes, and.

There is no choice.  There is no “this or that.”  There is this and that.

It’s yes, and.

This improv exercise is actually a pretty good approach for conversational conflict management.  If you can exercise the muscle of seeing the good in what someone else says, in adding to their idea to make it better or even feasible, then you can add credibility to conversations and encouragement to friendships.  It’s really a pretty great tactic.

I’ve been thinking about this “Yes, And” as I write through this season of my life, as I answer the questions that are born in conversation, in my thoughts, on my dark days and my sparkling ones.

“Tricia, it’s horrible what has happened to your family.”

Yes, and we are becoming stronger.

“But don’t you question God?”

Yes, and I believe he is sovereign in ways I cannot understand.

“But don’t you get angry?”

Yes, and I’m honest about it.

“But he died too soon.”

Yes, and he was in my life for twelve beautiful, complete years.

“This sucks.”

Yes, and I will find meaning in it.

It’s “Yes, and.”  It’s both.

It isn’t, “Oh, but I’m finding meaning in it, so it doesn’t suck.”  No, it still sucks.

It’s “Yes, and.”

Yes, we are a tricycle, and we are strong and mobile.

Yes, my life split to pieces, and now I know that I’m a crazy strong girl.

Yes, he’s gone, and I’ll see him again.

Yes, it was the worst ever, and I survived.

Yes, my children don’t have their dad, and they have a damn good mom.

Yes, my children have learned a degree of loss far earlier than many of us ever have to, and they have a deep understanding of life and death and what matters and God is faithful.

Yes, And.

Tricia Lott Williford

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  1. Hi, Tricia… I’ve been reading for a while… Excellent post…! Friend and colleague, Dr. Mary Hulst, preached a message with this same title (… She (asked permission and) used the story of my becoming a widow at the age of 23…

  2. I am a desperately wicked sinner, unholy, alienated from God.

    Yes, And… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

    Tricia, thank you for “Yes, And.” So encouraging in so many ways.

    Yes, your children don’t have their dad, AND they have a wonderful Prov. 31 mom – skilled and wise in the wisdom and strength of the Lord, and they will rise up and bless you!

  3. I don’t normally comment, but this post is AWESOME!! My new outlook on life. 🙂

  4. Oh my God. I love this. So helpful to me today. Thanks, sister.

  5. A muthaf%#kin damn good mom is more like it. It was like watching an artist at work, Tricia. Keep killing it.

  6. I love this! I have a very negative person in my life and often find myself trying my hardest to be as positive as best I can. I lost a husband and she lost a son and it has been hard, but I have three precious boys to be proud of and have many wonderful memories of my husband. He was such a positive person and wanted me to be the same. Thankfully, the boys have inherited this trait.

  7. What a powerful starting point for a chosen attitude. Love it!

  8. I was going to tell you this is my favorite post yet and noticed someone else said the same thing. Yes, and it’s still my favorite post.

  9. Dear Tricia, thank you for this wonderful approach to life!!! I plan to immediately adopt it and apply it to everything!

  10. So true and really something to think about before “opening one’s big mouth” and starts being negative. I love the thought!

  11. Love this post, Tricia! Totally remember this exercise when I took an improv class many moons ago. I wish more people used it in everyday life (especially in brainstorming sessions). Too often do I hear “I don’t think that will work because…”. YES, AND makes me happy!

  12. Oh my friend. This may be one of my favorite posts ever. I love this attitude in the face of all situations.

    • ME TOO. Or, Yes, and me too!

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