Joyful Parenting Coaching
TIP 3: Using “yes, and” to Move the Conversation Along Positively
In the world of Improvisational Acting, one of the rules is to keep the action moving forward, so not blocking a person’s story is key to success. Improv actors do this by saying in response to whatever their partner says. “Yes, (that’s true! you’re right!) and …..”
Listen to how a couple might use this technique to build a warm connection between them:
Bob: I want to go to Hawaii so we can hang out under an umbrella.
Barbara: Yes, and we can drink pina coladas with little umbrellas in them. Those are so festive!
Bob: Yes, and I read a review of a restaurant right by the water that has festive colored lights.
Barbara: Yes, and I could try the Mahi Mahi fish and we could walk on the beach after dinner.
Bob: That sounds nice. I love the sound of the waves.
Suppose that Barbara doesn’t really want to go to Hawaii. She knows how expensive it is and is worried that such a trip will badly eat into their savings. Going to Hawaii just to make Bob happy does not serve the family in the long run. Barbara is likely to get tense and tight lipped about every expense on the trip thereby ruining Bob’s pleasure. The family might need that money later. This is where the variation of “yes and” comes unto play.
By using “Yes and” Barbara has allowed herself to imagine what she might enjoy about Hawaii and has built up a lot of warm feeling between her and Bob. Now it is time to introduce her concerns. Let’s see how this goes:
Barbara: I love the waves, too, and AT THE SAME TIME I am worried that Hawaii will be too expensive.
Bob: Yes, that’s true, and AT THE SAME TIME, we saved by not going away at Christmas.
Babara: I’m glad we put some money away, and AT THE SAME TIME I would like to avoid the cost of a long plane flight.
Bob: Yeah, I checked prices and it will be peak season, and AT THE SAME TIME I get so much benefit from being near the water. It is worth it to me.
Bob and Barbara are getting close to moving into the brainstorming phase to find a win-win solution. Notice that now when Barbara brings up the issue of cost, Bob slips in that he has considered cost. He already checked the price of tickets, so it is not that he is insensitive to their budget. His last statement also reveals how it is being near the water that provides so much benefit to him. This would be a great place for them to begin to generate alternate ideas that meet Bob’s need to relax near the water and Barbara’s need to not go over budget. Tahoe? Santa Cruz? Lake Shasta? It is easy to imagine that this warm, lively conversation will continue to move along toward a solution that works for them both. They will end up with a good plan, but more importantly, the process of coming up with that plan will leave them feeling more loving and connected. Talk about WIN! WIN!