a big colorful ampersand to represent the AND in YES AND

What does “YES, AND” actually mean?

You’ve probably heard that improv and improv games rely heavily on the concept of “Yes, and…” But what does that phrase really men?

As you approach each game, do so with the spirit of “yes, and…” in mind. The concept of “yes, and…” is a core principle in improv games. Yes, it means you:

1) listen and accept what someone is saying or doing AND
2) when it’s your turn to speak or interact, acknowledge their reality and add on to their response with your own contribution.

Note that you “accept” a player’s reality. You may not like it. You may not agree with it. But you acknowledge and accept it. That’s the “yes” part of “yes, and.” 

For example, in a game, someone may say, 

“Pee-yew, Todd. One of the reasons I hate working with you is because you have really bad body odor!”

Now, in reality, your name is not Todd. You don’t work with Lisa, the person who said that.  And of course, you think you smell lovely. 

But to have a good gaming experience, you need to accept Lisa’s reality. Your name is Todd, and Lisa thinks you’re smelly. And also, Lisa hates working with you. That’s her version of reality.

That’s step one. Step two is adding something else to the reality Lisa has presented. Here’s an example:

Yes, Lisa. I have body odor. And I make a point of eating lots of garlic and not showering just so that I can offend you. Because you’re no picnic to work with, either!”

This is where the concept of “yes, and…” provides an excellent framework for a response. If you look at the response, you can literally see the words “yes, and…” in it. If you get stuck on how to reply to a player, you can always default to this framework for helpful guidance. 

Of course, you don’t need to be literal with your “yes, and…” mindset. Sometimes, it’s implied. For example, you might instead say, 

“I’m so sorry, Lisa. It’s just that the new baby has been keeping us up all night. I’m so tired I don’t have time to shower anymore.”

In the above example, it’s clear that you’ve accepted Lisa’s “you stink” reality. And you’ve also added on more information. This gives the player something an opportunity to respond with her own “yes, and…” of the reality that you’ve presented!

Use the spirit of “YES, AND” when you play improv games like Sponto Time. YES AND is also an excellent framework to apply in real life situation where you want to increase creativity, innovation, and teamwork.

“No, but” and “Yes, but” can keep you stuck. Give the spirit of YES AND a whirl, and let us know how it goes for you!

You can get started with YES AND today! Buy the Sponto Time card deck at The Game Crafter today AND start playing with your friends, family, and colleagues!

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