By Danielle Siegel, PCC, LCSW. I was working with a client recently who is working on building relationships and trust with extended team members. In particular, there is one person with whom he struggles to hear his ideas without (internally) rolling his eyes. He wants to be open to hearing ideas that are outside the box, but he was wrestling with how to do this. This reminded me of one of my favorite exercises that I facilitate with teams: the “Yes…and…” exercise.

Yes…and…” 

The Yes…and..” exercise is about encouraging ideas no matter how crazy they may seem. Often times, our initial inclination when we hear a crazy idea is to shut it down immediately. We may do this with a simple “that won’t work because…” or a “yes… but,” which invalidates the idea.

To illustrate this with a team, I have them do a simple exercise — plan your holiday party. The rule is that whenever someone makes a suggestion, the next person has to respond with “yes…but…” and then give their own idea. As you can imagine, this squashes all creativity and leaves team members feeling dejected and no party planned. 

In the next iteration of the activity, the members are directed to start all of their responses with “what I like about that idea is…and (adding your idea onto what was said). The bottom line with this is to find the 10% of the idea that you like, acknowledge it, and use it as a spring board for another idea. When I suggested this 10% rule to my client, he realized that there was always a nugget he could find in everyone’s ideas, no matter how off-the-wall they seem.

Can you challenge yourself to find that nugget?”

To become a more creative leader and start thinking outside of your own box, schedule a consultation with Danielle.