When on the improv stage, one of the most important principles is listening to and supporting your partner. If you do this, you help create a very strong sense of team, and also further the story in a way that is interesting to the audience. For example, if someone says, “let’s go to the store,” you can “yes and” it by saying, “wonderful, I love JZ’s store, because it has such great record memorabilia that dates back to the fifties!” What you have done is “yes and-ed” your partner. You have essentially built on the first concept they introduced, a store.
Contrary to good improv, one could have done a “yes but.” For example, “Okay, that store is fine, but I really want to go to the movies.” That is denying your partner on stage, and invalidating their idea. You are not building on their initial idea, nor are you moving the story forward. You’ve essentially blocked them. Your story has now halted, and your partner does not necessarily feel supported. This is the importance of “yes and-ing” rather than “yes but-ing.”
Whether you’re an investor, an improviser on the stage, leading a team at a company, or a soccer captain, we can all practice the glory of “yes and-ing” one another. If we do so, we will build a beautiful and strong world based on a foundation of supporting wins for everyone, all around.