Newsletter Article: Saying Yes

[This article orginially appeared in the Merlin-Works October News Letter]

How often do you say yes and really mean it? It can be an uncommon and incredibly powerful experience.

In my workshops I have my students play a deceptively simple game. They get into pairs and one partner gives the other an imaginary present of their own choosing. It can be anything they want. They could give their partner keys to a new Porsche or a gift certificate to a week at the spa. Of course they try to give their partner something they think their partner would want. The rule of the game is that the person receiving the present has to act as if it’s exactly what they want. For example,

“Here you go . . . It’s a ticket to a flight to Paris. You leave tonight!”

“Thank you! How did you know? It’s exactly what I wanted. I’ve never been to Paris. Now I can see the Eiffel Tower . . . “

“I’m so glad you like it!”

You get the idea. Each person gets a turn giving and receiving the perfect gift. A simple game with many implications, It simulates the experience of successful giving, when your offer is well received. And it feels wonderful. It makes you want to give them something again, whether it’s a gift, or your attention, or just an idea.

The exercise also lets you know what it feels like to truly say yes to something fully and without reservation or qualifications. It’s a great feeling as well. It’s something we should do more often.

Now of course, in life we can’t go around saying yes to everything (although that’s the premise for the new book Yes Man by Danny Wallace) When people call you up and say, “Would you like to sign up for new long distance service” or “Can I start you off with some drinks, maybe chips and queso?” Of course you can say no. But when life presents you with opportunities to say yes to another person (or yourself) fully and completely, take advantage of it.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Can I tell you about this new idea I had for our project?”

“Let’s do something different tonight!”

Say yes and see where it leads you. It’s a great gift to give to others and yourself.

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About Shana Merlin

Merlin Works is the brainchild of Shana Merlin: improviser, teacher, and performer. Since 1996, she’s been leading classes that stretch people’s imaginations, push them out of their comfort zones, and make them laugh out loud for hours at a time.

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