The main principle of improvisation is “yes, and…”. This means that you hear whatever your partner has offered, accept it, then add to it. It sounds simple but can be difficult to put into practice. Often we don’t listen and take in what someone is saying, we’re already thinking about our idea and what we want to say. This can lead to frustration on the stage and in the office. Using the principle of “yes, and” is a great way to listen and collaborate with a co-worker.
Improvisation can be applied to many different areas. One of the wonderful things about improv is that there are no limits or restrictions. Anything can happen. That is very exciting and freeing when you are performing on the stage and it can be the same in a traditional work situation. The first step is listening to the other person. Very often we’re concerned with our ideas, how we sound and how we’re being perceived. You have to come out of this mode and start focusing on the other person. That is true collaboration and is the way to success.
Once you start listening to your partner and really hearing what they are saying you can move into “yes, and”. It’s very easy to come from a place of negativity and rejection. When someone makes a suggestion it can be very easy to immediately start thinking of all the obstacles and problems. This instantly places you at a disadvantage. You are cutting off ideas before they begin. People respond to positive feedback; if you respond to ideas with negative feedback then people are less likely to come up with good solutions.
Once you have listened and responded with positivity you can begin to build on the initial idea. Think of this process as a tennis match, you each are hitting the ball back and forth until you reach the conclusion. This also makes you think on your feet and contribute a possible solution to every problem. People want to know that their concerns will be taken care of; this is especially true with clients. A client comes to you with a need and your job is to provide them with what they want. If you are using the “yes, and” principle your job will be easier and your clients will be happier.
Utilizing the improvisation principle of “yes, and” in your business practices is a helpful tool when working on a team or client facing. It improves listening skills and helps you come for a solution oriented and positive place when faced with a task or project.
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