We really like this BBC video and feature on what businesses can learn from comedy improvisation. The crux is that saying 'yes and' rather than 'yes but' encourages creativity and keeps up conversational momentum.
The concept touches on neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Saying 'but' negates everything that comes before it. (It's like the old 'I'm sorry, but' syndrome. As soon as someone hears the 'but', they feel like it's a false apology.) 'But' signals disagreement and closes things off.
Saying 'and', though, is a term of agreement. Use 'and' rather than 'but' in negotiations and when you're dealing with disputes and the other person will feel you're on their side, that you're building on what they're saying rather than point blank denying it. It builds rapport and keeps things open and amiable. And it makes them feel like you're really listening to them.
'Yes and' also promotes creative thinking. Rather than squishing ideas as soon as they pop up, 'yes and' pushes people to inflate them, to build upon them. Try it in a brainstorm: forbid 'but' and just work in a continuous chain of 'yes and's. We promise you'll come up with at least one or two nubs of very strong ideas. Just make sure someone is jotting down everything that's said!
Entrepreneur Rob Loch has actually created a whole members club for business thinkers based on the power of saying 'yes and'. It's actually called The YesAnd Club. Its website describes its reasoning thus: "It's easy to explain why an idea won't work. It's far more fun and rewarding to say yes and… develop the idea. We love enthusiasm and energy. Magic happens when people say yes and bounce ideas back and forth, improving on them each time."
We couldn't have put it better ourselves. So maybe it's time for a new year's resolution: try 'yes and'. Try it in negotiations. Yes and try it in brainstorms. Yes and try it when resolving conflict. Yes and - well you get the idea.
Yes and now over to you.