Sometimes I can be a little . . . pessimistic. I'm not generally a sourpuss, but I can certainly see the glass half empty from time to time. I like to call it realism, but I get that sometimes my "realism" isn't appreciated. I'm not sure what got me me thinking about this, but I'd like to try to turn over a new leaf. This reminded me of an improv concept (yes, I have improv training) called "Yes, and . . ." The idea is that when doing a scene, rather than shutting down your fellow improv-er, you want to agree and add to what's being said. So, for instance, if your scene partner says, "Oh my gosh, my grass hut is on fire!" your response might be something like, "Yes, and so is your grass skirt!" thus building the tension and the heightening the action. I've been toying with adding this technique to my daily life. Let's think about it, shall we . . .
"Yes, and . . ." At Work: think of all those times when you want to say something just to shut down an awkward work situation. But what if you go totally opposite--agree and heighten! Your boss says, "I'm sorry, you'll have to work late tonight to finish this report." What you really want to say is, "I'm sorry, I have to go to the proctologist tonight, so I won't be able to get that done." But instead you reply, "Yes, and while I'm at it, why don't I paint your office--what about a nice rosy taupe?" Imagine the surprise on your boss' face. You just might be employee of the week and secure that pay raise you've been waiting for. Or what about if your work nemesis were to say, "WashingTina was the one who heated up fish in the microwave," the reply might be, "Yes, and that's my three-week-old meatloaf in the fridge growing fur!" You'll be the most popular person in the office in no time!
"Yes, and . . ." At Home: If your husband/boyfriend/paramour asks, "Do you want to order Chinese for dinner?" and you employ the improv strategy, "Yes, and I'd also like a backrub and foot massage" things could really work out in your favor. Suppose your mother calls wanting to discuss family politics, "Uncle Waldo left Aunt Sue, can you believe that?" You might want to say to her, "Duh! Everyone knows she's a nasty shrew," but rather than insult your mother's sister, you say, "Yes, and he took all of her high heels with him!" you win friends and influence people (not to mention start a nasty little family rumor that will go down in history and be the toast of Thanksgivings yet to come).
"Yes, and . . ." At Parties: Just think about all those awkward dinner parties and other situations where you get stuck talking to the biggest wet blanket because your sadistic friend stuck you sitting next to him because you're the fun one who can talk to anyone (can you tell this has happened to me before?). How much more fun would it be if you stirred things up a little? When the wet blanket says, "So I was working on some projections for tax season, when I realized I forgot to include the 1099-G and ruined my day. Do you have any idea what that's like?" you could say, "Yes, and I also know what it's like to ride through the desert on a horse with no name. Do you like horseback riding?" Or when some drunk weirdo tries to sidle up to you at a cocktail party, "Hey there, shweetie, wanna do a shot?" you might come back with, "Yes, and let's ask your wife to join us!" The possibilities are endless.
"Yes and . . ." In Public: Maybe you're waiting in the "15-Items-or-Less" line at the grocery store and someone in front of you has 37 items and is paying with a check. As you sigh huffily, the person says, "Is there some sort of problem?" You might normally say, "Oh no, go ahead, no problem," but if you go improv, instead you might say, "Yes, and everyone else in this line agrees with me, asshole," you just might start a revolution. That person will think twice about breeching social norms, that's for sure. Perhaps you're riding the bus and someone offers you a seat. Normally you'd decline just to be polite. Not this time. "Would you like this seat?" to which you respond, "Yes, and I'd also like you to do a better job of bathing." Just imagine the cheers of your fellow bus riders! Suddenly, you've got the world on a string (and a seat on the bus!).
I guarantee, if you start using the "Yes, and . . ." strategy in your daily life, things will be much more interesting. I mean really, that kind of honesty is simply hard to argue with. Crowds will part as you approach, seats will open for you on Metro, the "15-Items-or-Less" line will always be just that, you won't get stuck working late or cleaning the office fridge--it will be a thing of beauty! Life will go your way. Really, isn't that much easier than being a pessimist? Yes, and it's also a good way to keep people guessing. Trust me on this one.