Yes, And

I have a friend with a wonderful manner of reflecting in speech. It's one of his ways of being actively conversational. If you share something, he might reply, "Hmm — I like that. That's interesting to me because (X), which makes me think of (Y)." It's a great structure, and one I've tried to adopt. Let's break it down:

 

"Hmm — I like that."

First, recognition and affirmation. He makes sounds like he's savoring what you said. Needless to say, this response is incumbent on listening and kindness. The conversational leader is clearly established.

"That's interesting to me because (X)."

Next, he follows your lead. He accepts the subject as stated, then shares what he finds 'of interest'; he elects to engage with your perspective. In this moment, there's both an appeal to agreement and the shine of a new facet, a point of focus. 

"Which makes me think of (Y)."

Finally, he introduces a new thought, some extension of what's already been said. It might be an analogous example, to reinforce your shared understanding, or an offshoot: a counter, complication, theory, or anecdote that moves the conversation forward. It's implicitly an invitation to reflect more deeply on the original statement; he opens a new door.

 

Essentially, it's an elaboration on the classic 'Yes, And." There's plenty to say about this little heuristic, so let me return to it later. For now, just before we move into the new year, let me simply resolve to listen with kindness, to accept things as they come, to affirm the things that I like; to engage with interest, to have opinions that I stand for and offer up, and to keep opening new doors.