“Yes, And. . .” Your Customer

When doing improv, the foundational rule is that whatever your acting partner says or does, you follow their lead. When one actor says something, the other actors are always going to say, “yes, and. . .” They will take what they are served and add something better to it.

You should take the same approach when you are dealing with your project stakeholders or customers. When your customer says something, you should reply, “Yes, and. . . ” And here’s the challenge: make sure that the next thing you say makes the customer say, “That is exactly what I want, I just hadn’t thought about it that way.” The challenge is that you must know your customers enough to be able to add something that they will love. It can become a game: if you can make your customer surprised and delighted, you get a point. If you just get a mediocre response, you lose a point.

Improv flops when an actor tries to make a change to the scene without going with the flow. When an actor suddenly says, “I see what you did, but . . .” the scene comes to a screeching halt. The same thing will happen with your project or business. If you start leaning against your customers, instead of helping them get up the hill, your customers will leave you as soon as possible. Your customers didn’t hire you to have a conflict with them; they hired you so that they could get something important completed.

The next time someone asks you to do something, start your next sentence with “Yes, and. . . .” and make sure that the following sentence blows their socks off.