Yes, and…

23 Nov 2020

Everything Before the But.

A blunt consultant once told me, “Everything before the but is bull*^%$!” Rude, crude, witty even, but also true to my experience!

In the second of my season on Improvisation (Improv), I’d like to draw attention to that little linguistic devil, “But!”

“I love you darling, but…” We both know that the, “I love you darling,” is instantly negated by the, “but.”

“But,” has its place as a conjunction… but(!) it’s overused and misused and abused!

In the first of my new Improv classes online, we engaged in a three-part exercise. In pairs, one of us had to come up with a great idea for a party, and the other player had to shoot the idea down, using a ‘But’ Bomb!

Part two was even more insidious. At this stage, we had to use a, “Yes, but…” to shoot down the ideas, thereby sapping the conversation of all its energy while pretending to be supportive.

In the debriefs after both initial rounds, we shared our frustration and discomfort with destroying our partner’s ideas.

I wish this was true in other aspects of life. In my experience, there are far too many nay-sayers who seem to GAIN energy from butting in on other people’s sparkling ideas… extinguishing their flame, with dark relish!

The final part of the exercise was to embrace another of the core principles of Improv! This is to say, “Yes, and…” Oh, what fun we had with that! What a different energy! What a relief to combine the first principle, “Listen like a Thief,” with this new principle of saying, “Yes, and...” to every offering from the other party. The concept is blissfully simple. You listen to your partner’s idea, accept them with an affirming, “Yes!” and then augment their idea – staying with their programme and not your own agenda. I love it!

What if we said, “Yes, and…” to life, eh?

Of course, the skilful Energy Vampire can say, “Yes, and…” yet mean, “No, but…”! We must listen like a thief and stay alert! There are devils in the detail!

I’ve found this principle mentioned in every book, tutorial, or session I’ve done on Improv… but(!) will I ever have it become ‘second nature’ for me? I want, “Yes, and…” to become part of my DNA so that I am always boosting energy, forever encouraging, and never dishing up the Empathy Blocker that is so often wrapped around a but!

Now, what could YOU and I say, “Yes, and…” to today?


A Moodscope member.

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