Yes, And

3 min read

Our Story

It is easy to say NO and dismiss ideas. While saying YES and building on top of an idea requires being mindful.

A few months into our relationship we found ourselves using more of a “No, Because” and “Okay, Whatever” communication style instead of “Yes, And.”

When one of us shared an idea and the other responded with either “no, I don’t think it’ll work, because it has these flaws” or “sure if that’s what you want.” These kinds of responses slowly chipped away at our confidence to share ideas and created feelings of detachment.

The approach of criticizing first closed more doors than they opened. After a Conscious Coupling session, we discussed that we needed to pivot to an acknowledge first approach.

We now try to rephrase our responses and refrain from using the word “No”. By acknowledging and stacking on top of each other’s responses, we share the responsibility of the idea equally. This keeps us both accountable and ensures our ideas are inclusive of both opinions.

In Safer Space, we talk about how communication is crucial to building a healthier relationship. The first step is listening. Build trust with your partner that you are listening, by acknowledging their ideas first. Adding to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree, makes the other feel heard.

Exercise: Plan an adventure

This activity requires role-playing to plan your next adventure. 

Bounce ideas off of each other and go through the rounds below. One partner provides the idea and the other responds with different styles. Reflect on your feelings after the exchange. 

Round 1 – Use a “No, Because” style, dismissing the idea

Me: Wanna go shopping this weekend?

You: No, I’m busy.

Me: I shouldn’t have asked.

Round 2 – Use an “Okay, Whatever” style, detaching yourself from the outcome

Me: Wanna go shopping this weekend?

You: Okay, let me know the plan.

Me: Ok I'll take care of it.

Round 3 – Use a “Yes, And” style, acknowledging the idea and building on top

Me: Wanna go shopping this weekend?

You: Yes, let's go to the outlets; I heard of a sale there.

Me: Yes! And let's get ice cream on the way.

Responding with “No” can be a habit, which dismisses the other partner’s idea even if we didn’t intend it. To build a healthier relationship, It takes courage to change that default to a “Yes, And.”