Acouple of weeks ago, a few friends and myself gathered for a comedy in Hamtramck.

 Co-written by a friend of ours, the show was a hilarious mix of improv and perfectly planned one liners. I admire people who can get up on stage and “wing it” all while making people laugh.

 Improv has been on my mind a lot lately. And no, not because I’ll be joining a comedy troupe anytime soon. Along with our friend’s comedy show, I recently saw a talk by Travis Thomas, an improv actor turned corporate speaker. Thomas uses a well-known improv technique “Yes, And” to lead teams at work and on the field. From his website “Living YES, And is about accepting and embracing everything that is happening in your experience — even the bad stuff! Why? Because good or bad, the only way to move forward is by facing it and moving through it. Whether we choose to make it good or bad, blissful or painful, a long or short process is entirely up to us.”

 Thomas is not alone. Tina Fey writes about using the “Yes, And” philosophy in her book “Bossypants.”

 A Fast Company article on the art of using improv in the workplace uses this example of how “Yes, And” works. “ … in an improvised scene with a partner, never say no. If you’re in a boat rowing down the river, you don’t say, ‘No, we’re folding laundry.’ You say, ‘Yes, and we could really use a paddle instead of my arm.’ It adds to the scene, humor can develop, and trust is established between scene partners.”

 Another reason “Yes, And” is so important is because it depends on listening. In our organization, no matter what position you hold, listening is vital. While it’s natural to try to think of what to say next while a person’s talking, if you use the “Yes, And” rule, you’ll find you have to give that person your full attention, so you know what to say next. What a novel idea! We should all be listening first before we determine what to say next.

 In addition, “Yes, And” is a fun way to live your life. On top of all of the benefits at work and at home, it also means that when a friend invites you to his comedy show, you can say “Yes, And let’s eat some delicious Polish food while in town!”

 How have you used the “Yes, And” concept in your life? Email me at

 Emily Caswell is the brand manager for VIEW Group, the branding division of View Newspaper Group.

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