What follows is based on theater director David Alger’s rules for improvisation. How greatly our relationships would improve if we kept these in mind.
1) Saying Yes! One quick way to shut someone down is to not play along, to reject someone’s ideas. If you were to do this on stage, reject a fellow performer’s premise during improv, it would put them on the spot and it would sink everyone on stage.
That is why performers came up with the rule of affirmation, or saying yes. It is an unwritten contract between performers to keep the scene going. Theater instructors tell their students, go with the flow and follow your partner’s suggestions, assume that their ideas will work.
How great would that be–if people followed this rule in everyday life? Imagine if the people in your life always started with the assumption that your ideas are valid. How would you feel? It’s the adult-world version of playing nicely together. The opposite of this is denial.