It’s strange to think that a comedic art form created from actor training exercises can help professionals conduct business, but that is exactly what improv can do. In improv, we are creating all of the elements of a theatrical scene on the spot with no prior planning—characters, location, action, even the number of people in the scene are all agreed upon spontaneously. It may sound impossible, and when it’s being done well, it’s hard to believe that nothing was discussed or written before, but being heard, having our ideas respected, being confident in our knowledge, and allowing for unexpected collaboration are all powerful tools. Tools with the capacity to not only create compelling theater, but also to empower employees, bond teams, and improve morale. The fundamental principle of improv can help improve communication, collaboration, adaptability, and creativity in ways that can even extend beyond performance and professional development into our daily lives. This can work for you.
“Yes, and…” the golden rule of improv, contains everything we need to begin to understand the power of improv. With the “Yes” portion of this principle, we are accepting the idea shared by our scene partner, whether that was expressed with dialog, with pantomime, or with just a look. We have to be listening to our partners with full awareness and acceptance. Our minds must be clear and open. If we have our own idea of what is right in this scene, if we ignore or miss the offers from our partners, the scene will stall and fail. This requires a present mindedness that allows us to be aware of all the possibilities being offered. This also requires us to respect our scene partners. We must be ready to accept their offer and build with them, not just wait for our turn to offer our idea regardless of whether it fits in the world they’ve begun to create.
In the workplace, open mindedness allows for efficient collaboration on group projects. We are more likely to reach consensus on a plan when we are truly hearing everyone’s ideas. Respecting each person’s idea creates a feeling of collaboration, even if a person’s idea isn’t ultimately used, knowing that it was heard and considered leaves them feeling connected and committed to the team. As salespeople, listening carefully and accepting the desires of clients leads to greater trust and stronger business relationships. “Yes”ing customer feedback can help create a feeling of collaboration between the customer and your business, leading to a stronger sense of loyalty and repeat business.
The “and…” portion of our fundamental improv principle requires that we trust ourselves and communicate clearly. After accepting the offer our scene partner has given we become responsible for adding information to continue to build the scene. Since we’re creating this scene in the moment with no outside preparation, if we hesitate, or don’t add information, we’re leaving our scene partner with the extra burden of having to create a scene on their own. We have to believe in the power of our ideas to add a compelling piece to the puzzle of the scene. We have to believe in ourselves, and we have to communicate that idea clearly. Confidently communicating our ideas moves the scene forward smoothly and expertly.
In business, trusting that we have the solution for our customer’s problem is the key to our success. Communicating that solution clearly and confidently draws customers to our product or service. We need to “and” what we’re hearing from our customers to create trust and secure sales.
Using the fundamental principle of improv, “Yes, and…”, in our businesses can help create an honest, trustworthy, and collaborative environment not only for our employees and teams, but also between us and our customers. Great businesses listen carefully, communicate clearly, and collaborate willingly. Improv can help you accomplish all three.
If you’re interested in hearing more about how improv can help your business, get in touch. We love to talk!