Listen Up! Day 5: Yes, And... ! | WBEZ
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Only Human

Listen Up! Day 5: Yes, And... !

It’s day five of Only Human’s Listen Up! bootcamp week. You’ve made it to our final challenge, which ties together everything you’ve learned from this past week. If you’re here for the first time, you can catch up on our previous challenges here.

The Challenge: First have a conversation where every response starts with “No.” Then, have another conversation and start every response with “Yes, but.” Finally, have a “Yes, and” conversation.

When you’re in a situation where you have to collaborate with other people, it’s easy to get stuck in a sludge of unproductivity. We all have ideas, suggestions, and strong opinions--and everyone wants the opportunity to voice their own. But the way we respond to the ideas of others — down to the very words we choose — can make all the difference.

So we’re borrowing an exercise from the world of improv comedy, “Yes, And… ,” which is used to keep conversation flowing. Instead of shutting down the other person’s ideas with “no” or “but,” you build upon them. Imagine an improv scene where actors didn’t listen to each other: you would have one person pretending to be an astronaut on Mars, and the other pretending to be a snowman. It would be total chaos.

“Yes, And-ing is more of a concept of life, and being open and free of judgement,” explains Molly Lloyd of improv theatre Upright Citizens Brigade, which was started by Amy Poehler and friends. You might remember Lloyd from the very funny (and sadly true) comedy sketch, “Everyone’s Upstairs Neighbor.” The improv comedienne and teacher, who guides us through this week’s challenge, encourages developing this “muscle of ‘yes, and-ing’” and using it when it’s appropriate. “When you’re building on each other’s ideas,” says Lloyd, “you just never know to what heights you may rise.”

So if you’re collaborating with others on something, say like a podcast, definitely use “Yes, and…” But if all that idea building takes you somewhere completely crazy… you didn’t hear it from us.

Molly Lloyd and Achilles Stamatelaky appear with the improv group Airwolf every Saturday night at the UCB East Village theatre.


We’d love to know if this leads to any great or ridiculous conversations! We might include them in our next podcast. Tweet us @onlyhuman or leave us a voicemail at (803) 820-WNYC.

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