As children, we’re led to believe that there is a time to be serious and – as a reward – a time to play. So we push ourselves to fulfill our obligations first and have fun later. But when work never ends, does that mean grown-ups never get to play? No way!
Stage improv might bring to mind comedy and unpredictable antics but it can also teach us an important lesson: it’s okay to work AND play at the same time! And if you do, you’re more likely to achieve the results you want much faster than you’d expect.
Just ask Gary Ware. At his SDX seminar “The Art of Play,” Gary shared how over three years of Improv have given him the skills to become a better leader, creative thinker and all-around happier person. With 3 simple tips, you too can start bringing some fun back into the workplace – and your everyday life.
1. Yes, and…
Have you ever seen the guys from ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’ deny something on stage? Of course not! That’s because the first rule in Improv is NEVER SAY NO! The world isn’t split into right and wrong. Every point of view has value. Being surrounded by accepting and supportive peers helps people feel comfortable sharing their ideas. You might just find the answer or solution you were looking for. At the very least, you could get a good laugh out of it. What about ‘and…’? Saying “yes” might make everyone happy but it won’t always lead to the best answers. Adding “and…” can drive collaboration to make good ideas even better. Instead of fighting over who’s right, improvisers react to their partners and add to what they’ve built to create positive outcomes.
2. Listen, listen, listen!
Try this game: Face a friend and just start talking about something – anything! When you’ve finished, your friend waits a few seconds before replying. The only rule? Their response HAS to begin with the last word of your story. As the game goes on – back and forth – you’ll end up with a nonsensical story but, you’ll have learned how to thoroughly listen. Many of us are conditioned to want to answer questions as quickly as possible – often formulating replies in our mind well before other people have finished speaking. Nobody likes to feel like they haven’t been heard. Take the time to listen and then react instead of making assumptions about what you think someone will say.
3. Make others look good
Improv teaches us that situations don’t always need a “winner.” Experiences are meant to be shared. Being supportive and helpful enables lasting relationships with those around us. At times, this might mean putting our own egos aside and getting behind someone else’s ideas. But when everyone works together with a positive and collaborate mindset, amazing results can happen.
BONUS: Have fun and don’t forget to be silly! Remember that’s it’s always easier to share ideas when you know people will be receptive.
Improv brings fun back into our lives by teaching us the importance of being supportive, listening to others and leaving our egos behind. By applying these simple tips to your everyday life, you’ll bring a more positive tone to the world around you.