In the past, one of the things I wanted to become was more spontaneous (because I equated "spontaneous" with being light-hearted, less serious, more exuberant---none of which I really see myself as) so I attended Improvisation for Creative Pedagogy at Second City in Chicago. One of the techniques I learned was "Yes, and..."
The next time you have an opportunity to view an improvisation troupe in action, watch how they keep the energy going. They do this by accepting whatever it is the person before them has thrown out, no matter how ridiculous, inappropriate, or bad. So the acknowledgement of "Yes!" then the addition of "and" allows the next person to continue and build on what the previous person has started. You can see how this mutual journey to spark tons of creativity and discovery. It's the opposite of "Yes, but..."
In "Yes, but," you're not really saying "yes." You're saying no. You're shutting down the action, the energy, the opportunity to go where no man has gone before...You're negating all the good things you said up to that point.
In this post, William Zinsser writes about bad headlines that spur us to wonder why we should bother reading further.
Dan Goldstein gives insight into “Yes, and” as well as several other tools in his essay on improvisation.
Here Charles “Chic” Thompson and Lael Lyons teach readers how to respond to the Top 40 Killer Phrases, like “Yes, but…” designed to squelch new ideas.
Somehow my mind has linked improv with walking the high wire without a net. Improv is up on the stage---something that doesn’t happen in real life, something I watch from the audience. But Shakespeare had it most fitting when he said, “All the world's a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances…” (from “As You Like It”).
Mick Napier said, “Support your partner.” He continues, “Do something now. Two people making strong choices is nothing but supportive.” Finally, "Improvisation is the art of being completely OK with not knowing what the fuck you're doing."
That's me, by the way. Up there on the stage, doing improv. And I'm completely OK.