An excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self” – Personal Experiments – Playing with Others
Experiment # 3
Television and radio are the home of every sort and style of interview show. We are constantly being introduced to the stories of people in entertainment, sports, politics, and science. The next time you listen or watch any broadcast in the interview format, watch to see if the rules of yes…and…are being practiced.
When an interviewer asks a question watch and listen to the answer given. Even if the interviewee does not actually say yes, is it implied as they answer the question?
As the interview moves along, observe how the dialogue holds your interest. Do you find that interviews moving along the paths of yes…and… hold your interest more strongly than those that do not?
Most often, interviews with an actor or a comedian on a late night TV show tend to be more interesting than those with people outside the entertainment field. Comedians, actors, and performers in the biz know about yes…and…either because they have experienced it in training or have come to learn its workings through practice.
Now that you are armed with the knowledge of yes…and….you can observe how a question by Jay Leno or Conan is met. If they say…”The new film you are working on is being shot in the Rocky Mountains?” and the question is met with an answer, “Well, not much of it really”. , the interview falls flat. If the same question is met with, “Yes I was riding a donkey along a pass last week and it nearly bucked me into a gorge”.
This little yes…and…game goes on before us all the time and now you can enjoy watching how conversations evolve as it is followed or ignored.
Experiment # 3
Watching the Interview
The next time you tune in to an interview on any subject….just watch.
Overall, you will find that the interest level projected by the interview seems directly proportional to the way the dialogue follows the path of yes…and… Possibility.
The more you bring the awareness of yes…and… into your day-to-day communication the more playful you are apt to find yourself. You may find the little yes…and… voice hovering over you like a whispering elf as did one of my students recently:
One evening after a workshop session where we focused on yes…and…for about an hour, the six members sat around and began to talk about the changes they had noticed in their relationships as a result of their practiced awareness of yes…and….
Bob is a talk radio DJ, who remarked how he was aware of yes…and….when he was doing on-the-air interviews for his show. Now I am always thinking of – yes…and – when I am taking calls. If I tend to negate someone, a little bell goes off in my head and I change my question or response.
Dawn, who works in customer service for a major cell phone company, said that her life had changed. Now that I am aware of yes…and…, I watch myself as I am talking to customers, and I am able to really listen to what they have to say. My whole focus for talking and listening to other people has changed.
Reactions such as these are not extraordinary or unusual for people who practice yes…and…; they are common and ordinary. You will discover the same result as Bob and Dawn in your own experiments.
Why does the awareness and practice of these experiments lead to new possibilities in our lives? Why does yes…and…make conversations more interesting to observe and more engaging to listen to? Why does it lead us to some new awareness of ourselves? Why does it function as a tool to lead us to a more intuitive or playful place?
One effect of yes…and…is that it removes the energy of conflict. By its very definition we are agreeing to agree and taking disagreement off the plate. When someone says, “You took a wrong turn there.” – you respond with – “Yes.” Possibility! You might say you’re right. – instead of , “Maybe you want to drive”.
Do you see how simply a conflict is diverted? Is refusing to say yes and admitting a wrong turn really worth all the emotional turmoil resulting from our negative response? How often do we respond habitually with words that lead to conflict, when we could simply listen, agree, and move on?
“Yes…and…” is a skill. It is a response you can learn along the same curve as riding a bike, or writing a check. Can you imagine how many little conflicts and emotional traumas can be averted throughout the day, the week, the month – your life? At the end of any given day, you will enjoy the new accumulated energy you might have wasted on a dozen petty conflicts, and can feel a bit more alive and present with your children, family, and friends.
Conflict is not very interesting. When people are arguing over a point in conversation or interview you tend to turn off and lose interest. If a mother and daughter are arguing about what soap to buy at the grocery store, don’t you tend to veer away? When you watch one of those “Right vs. Left” news programs, don’t you just want to surf way? So, what is it about conflict that limits our interest?
When we read a novel or watch a movie, conflict is what the whole story is all about – CONFLICT. But what if we steer away from the whole story, and focus on a specific moment of dialogue. Let’s look at how conflict functions in the smaller context of a specific dialogue or conversation. As you look closer you can see that conflict limits the possibilities of what can happen next. Once a conversation moves into conflict or an argument, what are the possibilities? Usually a fight ensues leading one or both parties to exit, or attack each other leading to bodily harm, mayhem, or death. Oh boy!
We experience this predictability of conflict subconsciously. Not that you have a conscious reaction like: “They are conflicted so they are going to fight.”, but you seem to sense a move to place you have been to time, and time again. You subconsciously predict the outcome from past experience and tune out.
On the other hand, yes…and… eliminates conflict so you become engaged because you have no idea about what might happen next. In fact, anything can happen when met with a yes. With each new statement the listener is re-engaged as we learn another piece of a puzzle with no predictable solution.
In a conflict the possibilities are monotonous, predictable, and limited. In yes…and…possibilities are open, and playful, unpredictable and …possible.