Monday, February 13, 2012


is not my strong point. We all know this. Let's just get it out on the table right now that anything interesting you've ever heard from me came out on this blog. Also, most likely if you ever tried to discuss said interesting thing with me at a later time, in person, I probably didn't have much to say about it anymore. Maybe the Mish you know in person is not the one who writes on here?

But actually it turns out I'm just really slow. Slow to figure out what I'm thinking. Slow to translate those thoughts into intelligible conversation. By the time I figure out what I want to say and how best to say it, the moment has usually passed. So I usually smile and agree, and that is that.

Obviously all this means is that introversion has reared its ugly head once more. But instead of my usual session of Introvert Apologetics, this time I think I ought to just apologize.

Because I am so slow to speak, I find that I miss a lot of opportunities to do good. I have suppressed many generous thoughts in my day. I have let slip many opportunities to comfort and encourage. Maybe part is because I don't find the words in time. But I know a lot is because I'm scared. Scared of what, not sure.

I guess I just want you all to know that I agree - this is a totally lame way to live. Tina Fey shared this point, sort of, via clever improv analogy.

The first rule of improvisation is AGREE. Always agree and SAY YES. When you’re improvising, this means you are required to agree with whatever your partner has created. So if we’re improvising and I say, “Freeze, I have a gun,” and you say, “That’s not a gun. It’s your finger. You’re pointing your finger at me,” our improvised scene has ground to a halt. But if I say, “Freeze, I have a gun!” and you say, “The gun I gave you for Christmas! You scumbag!” then we have started a scene because we have AGREED that my finger is in fact a Christmas gun.

Now, obviously in real life you’re not always going to agree with everything everyone says. But the Rule of Agreement reminds you to “respect what your partner has created” and to at least start from an open-minded place. Start with a YES and see where that takes you.

As an improviser, I always find it jarring when I meet someone in real life whose first answer is no. “No, we can’t do that.” “No, that’s not in the budget.” “No, I will not hold your hand for a dollar.” What kind of way is that to live?

The second rule of improvisation is not only to say yes, but YES, AND. You are supposed to agree and then add something of your own. If I start a scene with “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you just say, “Yeah…” we’re kind of at a standstill. But if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “What did you expect? We’re in hell.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “Yes, this can’t be good for the wax figures.” Or if I say, “I can’t believe it’s so hot in here,” and you say, “I told you we shouldn’t have crawled into this dog’s mouth,” now we’re getting somewhere.

To me YES, AND means don’t be afraid to contribute. It’s your responsibility to contribute. Always make sure you’re adding something to the discussion. Your initiations are worthwhile.

So I'm working on it. YES, AND is not a natural way for me. Or at least, out loud it isn't. But I'm tired of letting my generous thoughts slip by. Plus, I'm pretty sure I'm gonna be held accountable for all those missed opportunities, someday.

P.S. If you ever bring up this post in person, I will obviously have nothing further to say on the matter.


Karrot Soup said...

Tina Fey does nail it pretty well there. (A fun book to quote.) I remember thinking I should try harder at that, as well -- good luck to us all.

Tiffany said...

Love that Tina. And you, too. Your generous thoughts show, even if sometimes unexpressed.