Yes, And

Improvscience develops scientists' abilities to be creative and build with the ideas of others. However, seeing improvisation in the day to day practice of science is not yet commonplace. "Yes, And" is an improvisational principle that we can see in our scientific practice

One of the first ideas taught in an improv class is that of "Yes, and." This principle is one aspect of improv that many people know. It is easily the most important. It guides interactions in improv scenes in several ways. Introductory exercises (at least, the ones I remember doing) focus on a literal interpretation of this. The directions given in a conversational scene would be for every line to start with "Yes, and..." then include some additional information. 

One classic exercise is planning a party. An exchange in this exercise might look like this:
Jean "We should have a party."
Bill "Yes, and there should be cupcakes."
Jean "Yes, and the cupcakes should be chocolate!"
Bill "Yes, and we could also get a pony to ride!"

I felt awkward the first time I did this, largely because it is an uncommon practice in everyday conversation to keep agreeing with a conversation partner! And though it felt awkward, it felt exciting.

The principle goes beyond the use of the specific words or agreement. In improvisation, the key is to accept your partner's offer and build on it. Building a reality together unites the individuals involved and creates something new. This forms a simple collaboration, one without criticism or judgment. 

Many group activities can be improved by the "yes, and" principle. In improvscience workshops, such as Improv for STEM Professionals and Developing Your Mentoring Capacity, your team will learn more about the art of "yes, and" and what it can do for you. Contact us at to set up an event.

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