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"Yes, and . . ." a guide to upbeat relationships, by Karen Little

Tulip illustration by Karen Little of Sketch-Views

To feel energized, upbeat, and maybe even joyful, hang out with people who respond to your statements with a phrase that starts with "Yes, and..."

"Yes, and..." is a statement that kicks off improv skits. It guides the team to work together.

The use of "yes, and..." prompts improv team members to affirm and build upon subjects brought up by their team mates, no matter what is presented.

The players:

  • Understand the objective of the skit

  • Support one another in creating a successful performance

  • Pay attention to what is being done

In everyday life, family, friends, and acquaintances who regularly respond to others with "yes, and..." are perceived as being positive, supportive, and possibly even loving.

The exact opposite are "yes, but..." statements.

"Yes, but..." statements are joy killers. People who frequently use "Yes, but" statements are negative. They indicate that they:

  • Are not interested in the other person's viewpoint

  • Wish to invoke superiority

  • Want no part in validating the other person's experience

"Yes, but..." statements might be appropriate when side-taking is implied, such as when discussing sports and politics. Unfortunately, people who frequently use "Yes, but..." statements in casual conversations literally kill it.

If you've wondered why your mood shifts during certain encounters, take note on how people respond to you as well as to others.

  • If you feel down after meeting with people, but don't really know why, "Yes, but..." statements are common.

  • If, however, you leave a group feeling energized and hopeful, "Yes, and..." statements are present.

Pick your friends and acquaintances wisely! Your emotional well-being depends on it.


Improv techniques used to create sketch comedy are also used to teach people how to improve their communication skills. Knowledge of them also helps people become aware of supportive (positive) and hostile (negative) environments.

Listen to this article:

by Sketch-Views with Karen Little


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