4 conversations about how to listen, acknowledge, and build
awareness of default conversation patterns,
block vs. accept
no vs. yes, but
yes, and w/ and w/out connection
appreciate impact of listening and co-creation
4 conversations in pairs, 45 sec per conversation, switch roles for conversations 1 & 2 (3 & 4 roles are the same once you get started). One person enthusiastically wants to do the activity, the others respond as instructed. Can do in 3's, just assign 2 people to the response role.
Shared goal to plan the event.
First 2 conversations. Do each one 2x. The initiator has idea, responder starts sentence as instructed ("no...") finishes as is natural. Doesn't have to offer any suggestion. Can do whatever they want. Neutral to positive, rational, even helpful.
Reveals default in the face of no and yes, but.
1. No... x2
What did you find yourself thinking?
What did you find yourself feeling?
What did you find yourself doing (strategy)?
What did you find yourself deciding? / being
2. Yes, but... x2
What was similar?
What was different?
What was the impact?
How familiar at work?
Now trying something new (from improv)
Yes = enthusiastic agreement
And = build on the idea
3. Yes, and... (back & forth)
4. Yes, and what I like about that is ... and ...
What conversation was most familiar to you? (reflective)
Note: These conversations happen even with shared goal.
What can you apply what you learned here at work?
from AINbook, 4.2 The Cycle of Deep Yes, And
Performers + Witnesses. Witnesses don't know what is happening (instructions are whispered to performers)
Debrief: What party did you want to attend? What did you notice?
1. How did it feel during the Yes, BUT approach? What about Yes, AND?
2. What emotions surfaced?
3. Where did you feel them most within your body?
4. What percentage of your conversations are YES, BUT each day?
5. What can you do to make more of your conversations YES, AND?
This game offers a guttural glimpse at the power of saying yes to our partner’s offers. I usually do this in pairs as well, though it could work fine in groups of three as well. After determining who will start, the first partner makes a suggestion for a picnic. Partner #2 responds by saying “No…,” making sure to offer a reason why they can’t or won’t do what Partner #1 recommended. (As with the “thank you” in complementary poses, it helps to keep the “no” here pleasant. It’s not dismissive or angry in response to the idea, it’s just that there’s a reason why it won’t work.) Then Partner #2 offers their own suggestion and Partner #1 responds with a “no” of their own, again with an explanation. Allow the pair to go back and forth a at least three times before pausing to debrief how the planning went.
You'd think it would be easy to plan a picnic.
For the second round, have the partners wipe the slate clean so they’re planning an entirely different picnic. This time, rather than starting with “no,” they should start each response with the words “Yes, but…” After a partner explains the “but,” they make their own suggestion for the picnic.
In a third round, have each partner start every offering after the first with “Yes, and.” See if they can have what they add be specifically related to whatever suggestion just came through. So rather than responding to “Let’s bring our guitars to the waterfront” with “Yes, and we can bring sandwiches,” they might offer “Yes, and we can bring microphones and an amplifier as well.”
Even a short debrief will almost always draw out the greater joy, stronger connection, and more imaginative creativity that comes from working in the lsat mode. As Keith Johnstone proffers, “Those who say yes are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say no are rewarded by the safety they attain.”
Most folks get absolutely nowhere with their picnic plans in the first round. They might make a touch of progress in the second, but often feel even worse because they’re hearing the “yes” but not feeling its full power. The “yes, and” round then provides a huge surge in energy and laughter as people start to make fantastical progress on their interesting picnics. That said, make sure all the way through to acknowledge whatever experience people are having—it’s not always predictable.
If you have time and want to explore the concept even further, you can try a fourth round where each partner starts with “What I like about that idea is…____________, and….” This keeps the “yes, and” momentum going while also helping folks see that the literal words matter less than the looking for something positive to build on and then doing that building.