Believe it or not..
Conversations and improv comedy are very similar. They both have 2 or more people, they are both unscripted, in both cases neither person knows what the other person will say, you have to think off the top of your head and in both cases a conversation and improv show is a joint creation.
One of the fundamental principles of improv comedy is..
The “yes, and..” principle. This essentially means that during a sketch, when a person “adds” to the scene, you must always accept their assertion and then add on to what they are saying. This is what makes improv flow nicely.
During an improv show someone adds “Hey is that king kong on that building??” and the other person says “No I don’t think it is”… Now what? Where does the scene go? The person who added the assertion is now put in a difficult place.
If when they said “Hey is that king kong on that building??” and the other person says “I think it might be! And oh my god are those fighter airplanes??” Now the person can easily respond “Yeah I think those are fighter airplanes and I think they are going to try to shoot him down” see how that flows so much better?
So the basic principle..
Of “yes, and..” is simple.. Accept the persons assertion to the conversation and then add to it. I want to make sure its clear, that the “yes” does NOT mean you have to agree with the person, that is not the point. Its not about agreement or disagreement, its about flow.
The “yes” is all about accepting the topic the person adds in and letting go of whatever it was you had on your mind. Often times people get caught up with “something they want to say” but the person they are talking to moves the conversation to a new topic, but the other person is still thinking “I want to go back and say this” but when they do this, it totally disrupts the flow of the conversation.
So the “yes, and..” principle is all about letting go of whatever it is you are holding onto in your mind, accept what the other person adds and then add on to it.
Person 1: “I definitely agree, recently I’ve been trying to eat more fruit”
Person 2: “I absolutely love having an apple as a snack, what kind of fruits have you been eating?”
So you can see, person 1 made the assertion about eating more fruit, person 2 accepted the assertion and then added to it. This is such a basic principle but it is incredible how good it is at maintain flow in a conversation without hitting dead ends.
So give it a try! Watch how it can instantly improve the flow of your conversations.