It's the holiday season, and I know you are probably feeling a little stressed. So, I wanted to share with you a light-hearted way to grow your validation muscles. This might be a strategy you could even take with you to your holiday functions and family events coming up.
Or, on a more serious note, it might even help you to be able to dive deep into an important topic with a loved one (instead of shutting down the conversation prematurely and not getting very far which is very common!). But first, holiday hours.
Holiday Business Hours:
I was inspired to do today's blog after listening to a recent podcast episode by Dr. Loretta Breuning; specifically the one called Endorphin = Laughter = Improv (1). She is someone I have highlighted in a past blog, because she has the coolest videos that explain your brain's happy chemicals in an engaging and fun way. I also like them since she gives so many practical and simple strategies you can use to boost your happy brain chemicals. See my past post here: Great Resource Alert! Ever Wanted To Understand Your Brain's Happy Chemicals Better? (2). Or, you can go straight to her website to check out her videos here (3).
In Dr. Breuning's recent podcast she explored the topic of improv with her guest on the show. The guest explained the "yes and" principle of improv. This isn't the first time I have heard about this principle, but I thought it would be fun to explore it a little bit in the context of relationships, communication, and validation. Have you heard of it before? Second City has a brief description here about it (4).
There is also a very interesting Tedx Talk on applying "yes and" to your life to increase creative problem-solving and innovation (and the speaker is pretty funny too!) (5):
Just to comment on the above video and apply the info to counseling, I find that when people come into counseling they often feel very stuck in their problems. People frequently spend a huge amount of focus (and time) describing their problems, but often not an equivalent amount of time exploring creative solutions and ideas (usually not even close).
What's your ratio? How much time do you spend learning, cultivating a curious mindset, trying new things, and exploring outside the box ideas? Are you happy with that ratio? Do you feel that there is room for improvement? Or do you feel pretty good about your ratio?
That's why it's so helpful to be open to trying exercises that help you to get unstuck and to deepen dialogue. We ALL need innovative thinking whether it's at work or in our personal lives, because it's a fact of life that we all have daily problems to solve!
Check out this brief video explanation and demonstration of doing a "yes and" improv exercise. See below (6):
Essentially, with "yes and" as an exercise, you go along with what the other person is saying, and then you add to the story to move the same story one step further. If you are doing it in an improv game, it's well... entertaining and funny! It also keeps the laugh lines and story going instead of shutting down the interactions (which would get boring quick). If you say "no" and go off on a different topic, everything would grind to a halt. Essentially, the same thing can happen in our everyday conversations too!
Now, if you are working "yes and" into your conversations (as a general strategy) to improve empathy, validation, and creativity in your communication, you might think about the following:
"Yes and" as a general communication mindset, or when used as an improv exercise, is a fun way to improve your validation, empathy, and creative problem solving skills. Whatever you do, have fun with it! We can all make improvements on expanding and deepening conversations instead of shutting down ideas and dialogue at the gate.
So... Any takers on trying out the "yes and" improv exercise at a holiday event? Have you personally done improv and are familiar with "yes and?" If so, any comments or lessons learned? Please share below! I'd love to hear from you.
Thanks for joining me today. Happy holidays!! I wish you loads of love, laughter, joy, and fun. No blog or newsletter over the next couple weeks with the holidays. Talk to you in a few weeks.
All the best,
PS-Can I send you an email about once a week? The email will have a link to my latest blog post in case there is a topic you are interested in. As the business grows and I add more products and services, I will mention in the email what has been added.
References and Links
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Holly L. Harrison, MA, LMFT