I think everyone wants to create better communication. Better communication skills help in ALL areas of our lives. Whether it’s with co-workers, our spouse, our friends, our kids, our parents or in-laws, at the drive-thru, at the restaurant, at the checkout, or anywhere that involves interaction with another human, better communication skills is one of the best skills to always be working on.
We all know that the ability to communicate well with others is the key to healthy relationships. As flawed humans, relationships can be messy. Sometimes, it’s as simple as just the language we use. We can be saying the same thing 5 different ways and it lands differently with the other person. Our desire to be heard and appreciated. It’s important to be able to express our ideas, thoughts, and feelings and not feel invalidated or ignored.
There’s a Ted Talk I ran across several years back that changed my ability to not only be a better communicator, but more importantly, a better listener. I tell myself that I have 2 ears and one mouth for a reason! I can’t find the original video, but the one I linked should work if you’re interested.
The whole “yes, and” concept has its roots in improv comedy. This unique concept has since been applied to the real world and real communication with great success. It’s such a simple concept, yet so very powerful. It really goes to show that it’s not so much about WHAT you are saying, but rather HOW you are saying it. How we speak and say things is more important than the content that comes out of our mouths.
The reason it works is because when you say “yes,” you immediately validate the other person. You let them know that they’ve been heard. “Yes, I hear you.” Yes is a gift. Yes is an open door to better communication. However, “yes” does not mean that you agree with them. Stick with me.
After you say “yes,” you follow it with “and”. This is where you can add to what was said while adding your opinion, or you can completely disagree. The “and” is saying, “have you thought about this?”
“Yes, and” examples
Statement – “Hey honey, I was thinking we could buy some land out west as a home base. Maybe in Wyoming.”
Add-to response – “Yes, and, I think land might be nice. We could even think about Colorado or Montana since those were two of our favorite places.”
Disagreement response – “Yes, and, the cool thing about this RV lifestyle is that we can have a home base anywhere and not worry about maintenance with a piece of land. So many states out west are awesome, and I don’t know if could choose just one.”
See how that works? It’s pretty freaking awesome.
If you’re looking to have better communication skills, opting to use “yes, and” will move you in that direction.
“No, but…..” “No, actually….”
The other option, and the one most people use, is “No, but” or “No, actually.”
The minute someone hears ‘”no,” they feel invalidated. It’s just the way the brain hears language. They now also feel defensive about their idea. The word No tends to shut people down.
When you follow the “no” with a “but” or “actually”, it’s a double whammy. They’ve just been invalidated and shut down. Now you’re going to really tell them how you feel! It’s not good combination at all. See for yourself.
“No, but…..”, “No, actually….” example
“Hey honey, I was thinking we could buy some land out west as a home base. Maybe in Wyoming.”
“No. Actually, I don’t want the hassle of owning land out west. And Wyoming? Really? Oh my God, that’s such a terrible idea! We can travel anywhere at anytime and I’d rather be in Colorado or Montana anyway.”
It’s great for kids, too.
Do you feel like you’re always telling your kids NO? I know that I did for a long time. I use the “yes, and” method with them, too. It’s been a game-changer for our family. Better communication skills in a tiny house make life less painful.
“Mommy, can I buy Rainbow Six on the Xbox”
“Yes, and, I think it’s a good idea for you to complete all the things I’ve put on your list for the week for school and such. There’s also a few things from last week that didn’t get done either. Let’s consider it then, okay?”
“No. Actually you didn’t even finish all your stuff this week or last week and you’re expecting to get another game? Are you kidding me? “
“No, but if if you can your act together and do all the stuff I’ve asked you to do, then I might think about it.”
Mike and I have been using this with each other and our kids for many years. It’s been such a blessing and has really helped us create better communication skills in our house. I hope it can help you, too!