I hate improv acting, and I hated the improv class I took in ninth grade. However, the main principle of acting has stuck with me through the years. I'm glad it has, for it's given me a framework through which to view conversation, an activity I can struggle with at times, especially small talk.
The principle is this:
That's all there really is to improv. One actor cannot contradict the other person's statement; he must follow along or the illusion of the reality shared between the actors is lost. But he also can't leave it at just agreeing with his improv partner; he must add something to the scene they are building. Otherwise, the other actor has nothing to play off of.
While there is a time for disagreement in conversation, I think the Yes should still be said in a way. Even when I disagree, I should seek to see from the other's point of view and responding with understanding. It is not kind to not truly listen, and seeking to understand is a huge part of listening.
The And part is obvious: I must add something new. Even something mundane will give my mind time to draw something to the surface, if nothing else. But it also gives the person something to respond to; nothing kills conversation better than giving only a simple nod of the head or a one or two word answer. Such replies also make it appear I'm not listening.
I want to continue to remember this principle. It truly has and does help my conversing skills, and this has increased my confidence in talking with people.