Yes And Adventure

An Improv Therapy Group exercise


Everyone get a partner. Your task is for you and your partner to plan an amazing adventure together, but for the first part of the exercise you must start every sentence with either “no” or “yes, but…” For example, if your partner says, “Let’s go to Hawaii,” you might respond with, “no, I’d rather go to Europe,” or “yes, but it’s so expensive.” Your partner might respond with, “No, it’s not that expensive,” or “yes, but we could raise the money to go” etc.

Participants have two minutes for this planning session, then check in.

How did your planning session go? Where are you talking about going? What were some of the reasons you said no or yes but to things?

Undoubtedly the reasons will be logistical things like how will we get there, or how much it will cost; or based in fears such as what if there are bears or hurricanes. Some pairs may not have even been able to agree on where to go, and most conversations probably felt negative and like a chore.

Next start the conversation over again, only this time you must start every sentence with, “Yes and…” This means where you are going will be determined immediately – the first place that gets said! Then “Yes and” it from there, back and forth, creating an amazing adventure together.

Participants have one minute for this planning session, then check in.

How did it go this time? 

Undoubtedly this time went much better. Each pair shares a recap of their amazing adventures. Afterwards I let them know how awesome their adventures sound, what a huge amount they were able to plan, and I gave them half the time of the first round.

When we say no or yes but in a conversation it keeps us from moving forward.

But when we say “yes and” we go to the most amazing places.

This is why Yes And is the number one “rule” of improv, and a great “rule” of good conversations.

Saying no is usually based either in fear, (“I don’t want to do that because it might be scary”) or a need for control, (“I don’t want to do that because it wasn’t my idea”). When we let go of those two things we free ourselves up to be the most creative and collaborative, which is why this exercise is better than brainstorming for coming up with creative ideas.