Can two little words change your career forever?
Yes… and… here’s why…
Improvisational theatre, or improv for short, is a live theater environment where the plot, characters, and dialogue of a game, scene, or story are made up in the moment.
What you are watching on stage is created spontaneously by the performers.
The most important rule of improv is:
“yes, and …”
It’s the fundamental pillar of successful improvisational.
Since everything is created on the spot during improv, it’s imperative to say “yes” to whatever your fellow actors bring to the table and then “add on” to it.
For example, if you’re not listening to your scene partner, you’re missing most of the scene and you won’t be successful.
“Yes, and” reverses the common “no but” thinking. It improves creativity and collaboration.
What does improv have to do with my career and how can it change my career?
Your career can benefit from the principle of “yes, and” because saying “yes, and” can help remind you that each moment in your career, and in life, is a choice.
You are reacting to what comes at you every second, every day. It’s the small moments in your career, and life, that add up to a lifetime of moments.
Every new project, every new idea, and every relationship represents a moment in time and a choice for you to say “yes” or “no” to them. If you say “no” to something or someone, it shuts down your ability to collaboration and innovate.
However, if you say “yes, and” you create trust, creative juices start flowing, and collaboration improves with your colleagues.
Why “yes and” works
Personal and professional growth requires taking a risk in saying “yes, and” to things.In today’s global, hyper-connected world, success and personal development drive innovation.
It only happens when employees at a company are constantly growing, changing, taking on challenges assignments, learning new skills, and building on new ideas.
“Yes, and” can open doors and allows room for opportunity. It can change your career. Opportunity sometimes knocks gently and it doesn’t wait for the right timing. When you say “no” to others, it shuts down progress and innovation.
“Yes, and” opens up positive possibilities and invites your colleagues to partner with you. It fosters collaboration and growth.
People will be attracted to you by your willingness to say “yes, and.” The idea of “yes, and” may seem simple to you.
Words have power
“Success is simple, but isn’t easy because it demands execution, not intentions.”— Orrin Woodward, New York Times best-selling author
Try saying “yes, and” for a while. You’ll see it is hard to carry out and you may slip back to the default of “but.”
The word “and” feels very different from the word “but.” When we say the word “but” in a sentence we are invalidating everything we said before the word “but.”
No matter how positive we said something before the word “but” people will concentrate on what you said after the word “but” and most likely will forget what you said before the word “but.”
People who are successful ask themselves: “How can I say, ‘yes, and” to this?”
Let’s dive into 10 reasons why “yes, and” will help you change your career.
1. You say “yes” to amazing opportunities
“Yes, and” will help you see the value in different options more often than you did before.
“If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you are not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.”— Richard Branson, an English business magnate, investor, author and philanthropist
The word “yes” is inviting. It’s empowering. You want to do more when you say “yes.” You’ll create more.
Most importantly, you’ll livemore.If you say “yes, and” to a new project at work that’s out of your comfort zone, you’ll be able to grow your career in a new way.
You’ll never know where that new project will take you and your career. Looking back 10 or 20 years later, you’ll thank yourself for that “stretch” project that took you outside of your comfort zone.It all started by saying “yes” to more things.
2. Listening skills
When you say “yes, and” to others, you’ll listen deeper, fuller, and more actively.
As work becomes more collaborative and interactive, it’s increasingly important to learn better ways of incorporating other people’s ideas.
Instead of squashing your colleagues’ suggestions when you disagree, challenge yourself using “yes, and” approach to really listen to what you are saying “yes” to and really consider the idea.
Then, you’ll be able to add the “and” to it.
Being a good listener is about making other people feel they have a voice. You’ll be able to more effectively communicate with others because you really listened carefully to their ideas. You took the time.
This leads to better relationships. This leads to a better understanding of your colleagues and their ideas. Ultimately, making you more effective in the workplace.
“Yes, and” in improv rewards succinct, direct, and simple talk. Enough said.
Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another person. It helps you understand the other person’s feelings and perspectives. It will help you guide your own actions.When you say “yes, and” you’ll see things from other people’s points of view.
Empathic people have a strong curiosity about others. Emphatic people find other people more interesting than themselves.
By adopting the “yes, and” approach and mindset, you’ll communicate better and emphasize more with others. You’ll ask better and smarter questions.
The “Yes, and” approach will help your colleagues feel they matter and they’re respected. The hope is they’ll return the consideration and use a collaborative mindset as well.
“You can only understand people if you feel them in yourself.”— John Steinbeck, an American author
With a “yes, and” approach, you’ll become more comfortable with people watching you and being brave. You invite possibilities, the ability to learn what you are capable of, and how far you can go.
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”— William Faulkner, an American writer
When you freely say yes, you create an environment that’s risk-tolerant. You encourage innovation by trying new things. You use the successes and failures as learning opportunities.
Just ask Shonda Rhimes, an American TV producer.
— Shonda Rhimes
“I tried an experiment. For one year, I would say yes to all the things that scared me. Anything that made me nervous, took me out of my comfort zone, I forced myself to say yes to.
Did I want to speak in public? No, but yes. Did I want to be on live TV? No, but yes.
Did I want to try acting? No, no, no, but yes, yes, yes.”
“And a crazy thing happened: the very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary.
My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It’s amazing, the power of one word. “Yes” changed my life.”
While you may not be ready to dedicate an entire year to saying “yes, and” it can be one of the best decisions you can make for your career. It will change your career forever.
6. Be present
To make “yes, and” work, you have to be present.
When you are present in the moment, you’ll worry less about the future. You will really enjoy and feel the moment. The act of being present is meditation without meditating.
When you are present, you are calm and you know what you want. You focus on what you are doing at that moment and don’t think about anything else.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”— Alice Morse Earle, an American historian and author
7. Ingrained habits
When you say “yes, and” often, it becomes second nature. You’ll be ready to say yes to things in your career that you may not feel ready for.
Just ask American actress, comedian, writer, producer, and playwright Tina Fey.
Her aha! moment is a powerful story of her ingrained “yes, and” habits.Here’s an modified excerpt:
“We’re offering you a job here at Saturday Night Live — can you move here within a week?”
“Ummm, yes I can.” — Tina Fey“
You know, you haven’t been here that long, but do you want to move up and try to be one of the head writers?”
“Uhhh, yes, okay, yes, for sure.” — Tina Fey
“Do you wanna do ‘Weekend Update’ with Jimmy [Fallon]?”
“Yes, thank you, of course!” — Tina Fey
“Life is improvisation. All of those [improv] classes were like church to me. The training had seeped into me and changed who I am.” — Tina Fey
The things she learned in her improv classes became part of the way she lived her life. They helped her move up the career ladder at Saturday Night Live.
8. Clearer opinions
You have opinions all the time. With the internet, you can do research online. You talk to your colleagues and friends. You question facts.
You may not realize your opinions until you say “how can I say ‘yes, and’ to this request?”
By using the “yes, and” approach, you’ll become clearer expressing your opinions. It will make your opinions more valid, honest, and effective.
9. Self confidence
Take the opportunity as a compliment. Harness the confidence other people have in you. Your self-confidence is directly linked to success. You’ll have more energy. Your inspiration will come from within.
Every time you express your opinions. Each time your stand for something. Every time you take a risk and go outside your comfort zone, you build confidence.
“Life is a lot more fun when you say yes! It’s amazing how that one little word can lead you on an incredible adventure.”— Richard Branson, an English business magnate, investor, and author
Confidence is a fundamental quality of leadership. To build confidence, practice saying “yes, and” so you can grow the confidence that lives inside you.
10. New perspective
In group meetings, you want to have a feeling of control. You want to be right. By saying “no” to others, it may give your opinions more weight. That doesn’t make others in the group want to work with you.
By saying “yes, and” you will be able to hear and see other people’s perspectives. You’ll be more open and others will want to work with you. A new perspective will help you abandon your fears.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”— Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple
When you take the “yes, and” approach, you affirm to others that their ideas count, you are paying attention to them, and they matter to you. You are giving them the “green light” to trust you. This empowers others.
Bringing it all together
Saying “yes, and” won’t be easy. It will mean you are moving past your default “no” mentality and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. With “yes, and” you are embracing new challenges and looking fear in the face.
The key will be to use the “yes, and” approach in everything you do. The mindset is powerful. Just ask Tina Fey.
It will change the way you interact with your colleagues and friends and how you approach your career and life.
“Life is an improvisation.”— Tina Fey
Try out “yes, and” for a while and see how it can change your relationships, your work, and, ultimately, your change your career forever.