‘Yes and’ vs ‘yes but’ exercise

In pairs participants plan a party or trip together. In the first round, each time one makes a suggestion, the other responds by starting their sentence with ‘yes but …’ In the second round they start with ‘yes and …’ Appreciate, acknowledge and incorporate.

Time: 10 – 15 min

Number of participants: 2 – 200 in pairs.

Game flow:

Let everyone pair up with a partner. Tell them that together they have to plan a company party. One must start by sharing an idea. The other replies with the words ‘Yes but’, and a reason why the idea cannot work, and then this participant shares another idea. The first then replies with ‘yes but’ and so they go back and forth blocking each other’s ideas. After a while stop them and ask them to plan the same party, but this time instead of saying ‘yes but’ they must start their sentences with ‘yes and’, accepting the other’s idea and building on it.

Debrief questions:

  • What was the difference between blocking and accepting?
  • What are the benefits and costs of both?

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