Say "Yes" for Success

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

If you’ve attended one of my speaking gigs, you’ve probably heard me talk about some of my pet language peeves like, “the reality is,” (no, it’s not the reality, it’s your reality) or how people use the word “but” when praising someone’s thought and then go on to tell them what they really think as in, “What a great idea, BUT…”

As others of you know, I am an improv artist with the Wing and A Prayer Pittsburgh Players and we use the improvisation art form of Interplay to share and present our performances in business and non-profit settings.

Interplay is improv for noble purposes. Sure, we use comedy, but we go far beyond the laughs to find the joy and challenges of life through movement, storytelling and song.

Recently, we were talking about the power of “yes, and” as it relates to improv. This technique is a core practice of the art form. “Yes, and” involves taking someone’s idea and going with it instead of turning away from it (see “BUT” above.) This improv form not only works great on the stage but can also transform how your work teams can come together.

Imagine how the creative juices in your organization would react if everyone was working to build on ideas instead of just assassinating them. Going with other’s energy and viewpoints create trust and confidence that encourages others to speak their mind without fear that their ideas are going to be shot down. More importantly, those kinds of actions provide the propulsion to move the innovation and execution engine ahead.

You can try out being additive in your workplace with 3 simple rules for putting “yes and” into play with your colleagues:

  1. Listen-Listening is much more than just hearing. Most of the time while we are hearing what others are saying, we are arming our weapons looking to shoot them down. Take a breath and take in their words.
  2. Accept-Look for the good in what the other person is saying. Find the parts of their ideas you agree with and stop yourself from looking for ways to undermine their positions. Acceptance is easy if you are not looking for a fight.
  3. Add-When you listen and accept, you’ll find new thoughts coming your way. Pick one of them and add to it. Try affirming what your heard first and then see how you can increase the value of their views. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit perfectly. The process of adding creates the path to success.

Your assignment this week is to pay attention to how many “yes, BUTs” you say and hear from colleagues. Try being additive with a “yes, and” and see where the conversation takes you and your team.

And if you are interested in a great team building program that transforms the way people talk to each other, send me a note so we can chat about making your team and organization all about the “Yes for Success.”

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2019


Share this post


Subscribe to Richard’s Resilient Wednesday:

Get a Midweek Boost and a bonus Sample Chapter from Strategy Driven Leadership

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top

Subscribe to Richard’s Resilient Wednesday:

Get a Midweek Boost and a bonus Sample Chapter from Strategy Driven Leadership

Create a Powerful Workplace Culture

Discover the 10 Keys To Strategy Driven Leadership