/ #exercise #improv-game #spontaneity 

No / Yes but / Yes / Yes and

By pairs. Player A tells a story to player B. Player B can only answer No. Then player B can only respond Yes, But…, then Yes and finally Yes, and.

A good exercise to feel how we are affected by others’ reaction to our ideas.

  • Group size : By pairs
  • Time : 10-15 minutes


  • Put the participants by pairs
  • Show an example with a participant. You start a story, and this participant can only answer No.
  • Ask the participants to do the same by Pair.
  • After some time, ask them to switch.
  • Debrief this first session with the No.
  • Do the same with the next answers: Yes, but…, Yes, Yes And
  • Debrief the whole exercise.

For example :

  • A: Let’s go to the beach!
  • B: No
  • A: So let’s go to the mountain!
  • B: No

Another one :

  • A: Let’s go to the beach!
  • B: Yes, but I can’t swim
  • A: So let’s take the sun!
  • B: Yes, but it gives cancer


Let the stories continue some time before switching A and B. It’s part of the exercise to feel how hard it is to continue with some answers.

Debrief questions

Between each answer:

  • How does it feel to have only this as an answer?
  • How does it feel to start your sentences this way?
  • Which was the more difficult, to answer or to build the story?

At the end :

  • Which answer did you prefer? In which role? Why?
  • What is the link you see with the work?


As caricatural this exercise may sound, it’s a very efficient way to see how negative answers can be exhaustive.

It’s also interesting to see that with most groups, a Yes alone feel less good than a Yes, but... An interpretation is that to say Yes, but… you have to not only listen (Yes) but also to understand and build an answer connected (but). So you need to be more involved than a simple Yes.

This exercise is also an excellent way to show how a story can go farther when we build positively on them (Yes, and).


Baptiste Coulange

CTO at @cornis_SAS / socially acceptable maths nerd of @podcastscience / always improvising