Yes, and...

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"Yes, and...", also referred to as "Yes, and..." thinking is a rule-of-thumb in improvisational comedy that suggests that a participant should accept what another participant has stated ("yes") and then expand on that line of thinking ("and").[1][2] It is also used in business and other organizations as a principle that improves the effectiveness of the brainstorming process, fosters effective communication, and encourages the free sharing of ideas.[3]


The "Yes" portion of the rule encourages the acceptance of the contributions added by others.[4] Participants in an improvisation are encouraged to "agree to the basic situation and set-up." Thus, "by saying yes, we accept the reality created by our partners and begin the collaborative process." [1] For example, if one participant initiates a scene by saying "Cheryl! You look great!", their partner should respond with "Thanks! I've been dieting!" rather than "Who the hell are you?" (which would implicitly deny the premise that the two characters are well-known to each other).

In an organizational setting, "Yes" refers to the way in which one should listen and be receptive to the ideas of others. Rather than immediately judging the idea (judgment has its place later on in the development process), one should immediately accept the idea. Doing this paves the way for the next portion of the rule in which one is now able to expand on the idea without limitations.

The technical name for brainstorming is "nonjudgmental ideation" (i.e. suspending judgment long enough to come up with ideas). "Yes, and..." is the understructure for suspending judgment. In "Yes, and..." the acceptance of another's idea does not come with qualifiers, restrictions or judgment; rather it comes freely, unabashedly, and openly.[3]


In addition to accepting the premise offered by others, a participant in an improvisation is expected to add new information into the narrative. Hence the phrase "Yes, and!"[1]


  1. ^ a b c "Rules of comedy improv and acting". Pan Theater. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  2. ^ "What I Learned From the First Rule of Improv - Yes, And". Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  3. ^ a b Kulhan, Bob (2013-04-10). "Why "Yes, and…" Might Be the Most Valuable Phrase in Business". Big Think. Retrieved 2016-11-11. 
  4. ^ "Women 2.0—Tina Fey's Rules For Improv... And Your Career". 2012-01-08. Retrieved 2014-02-05.