Two words interest me in particular, they are BUT and AND.
I spent an interesting afternoon delivering a workshop to a group of music teachers. One of their key issues was negativity in the workplace. They wanted to learn about being more positive. I used a game called Yes And! to explore this.
We started off by discussing the following terms:
- Turning Against (which equates to blocking entirely)
- Turning Away (which equates to committing, begrudgingly or with conditions)
- Turning Towards (which equates to enthusiastically committing)
The teachers were asked to get into pairs and make offers to each other and then to use the different terms above to make a response.
Let’s go to the beach
Selection of responses:
Turning Against: No, I hate sand (totally blocked, nowhere to go from here)
Turning Away: OK, but only if we can go by car and be home for the 6 o’clock news (conditions!)
Turning Towards: Yes And let’s get an ice cream on the way! (Notice how this response commits to the offer and adds something to enhance it)
We continued this for a while and discussed how the different types of responses changed the energy or the dynamic of the conversation.
At the point where these principles were clear and established, we played more with the Turning Away and the Turning Towards. We tried giving the same response but in different ways.
Let’s paint this wall
Selection of responses:
Turning Away: Yes, but only if we paint it red
Turning Towards: Yes, and let’s pain it red
It was at this point, we recognised that sometimes our responses are delivered in a negative way and this can hinder our progress.
In the example above, we both gave the same response but we said it in different ways. If we use the word BUT, we appear to be taking some power or positivity away from the person’s offer/idea/suggestion/request.
If we use the word AND, we appear to be adding something to the person’s idea. We are saying yes and committing and offering our contribution, to enhance their idea.
I asked the group to go away from the workshop and keep considering, whether they could introduce an AND instead of a BUT in more of their communication.
Try it yourself and see the difference it makes to the way you feel and the way others respond.
Just discovered an interesting podcast that makes reference to the game YES AND…it shows you how the tool can be used and developed further beyond my use mentioned in the blog