I took some improv classes a couple of years ago. I was amazed at how much I could learn from the art of improvisation. I originally signed up for the class because I was told it would help improve my writing and speaking skills. But I discovered that improv is also a wonderful mechanism for improving your relationship skills. It teaches you to be present, listen, and respond in a way that moves the conversation (or scene) forward. There are a multitude of surprises one can learn about themselves, their lives, and human nature in the pursuit of creating a spontaneous scene and character with another human being. But the “rule” of improv I love the most, is the rule of Yes and…
Yes and means that you do not negate another person’s reality. You say “yes” to whatever your scene-mate is creating and then add an “and” onto it to further the scene forward. In other words, in improv you never make the other person wrong. You accept their ideas and add some of your own to create an interesting and evolving story. When you do this in improv the characters and scenes become richer and more alive. Surprises continue to unfold. The characters become more connected and intimate. There is no competition over whose reality is right. By saying yes and, you and your scene-mate form a true partnership based on trust.
When I applied the yes and rule to an improv scene, the scene required far less energy to create. In fact, it created more energy that moved us and the scene forward rather than draining energy from both myself and my scene-mate. I didn’t feel like I was on my own. I felt the scene was truly being co-created and the outcome was far more interesting that any outcome that would have ensued if it had gone solely my way or her way. At the end of the class, I felt more synergy, creativity, connection, and joy. So here’s my thoughts on how you can take yes and into your own life.
I propose that you adopt a yes and approach in your own relationships. Look at as an experiment if the idea gives rise to hesitation. Give it a try for a week and see what happens. In your relationship with others, take the position of agreeing with their reality and then adding some more of your own. Take a week off from power struggles. Take a week off from debating a point of view. Take a week off from needing to be right. See how it goes. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Let me know how the week went. Let’s learn from each other!
Julie Orlov, psychotherapist, speaker, and author of The Pathway to Love: Create Intimacy and Transform Your Relationships through Self-Discovery
Create Relationships in Your Life That Work — learn more at www.julieorlov.com