How do you rate yourself when it comes to thinking on your feet at work? Need a little help in that department? Need a little training? Need a little improv?
Improv? Yes, it's one of the hottest training methods in today's workplace--learning the skills used in improvisational theater. See the parallel? Improv actors have to laser-focus so they can create and perform at just about the same instant. Does that sound anything like the demands being put on you in a work world that keeps changing and never shuts down?
What's more, improv actors have tremendous respect for one another's concepts and are willing to take someone else's thread and run with it to see where it goes. And wouldn't that be nice at work--if colleagues really listened and supported our ideas and gave them a shot, instead of steadfastly proceeding down the same old path?
Respecting other people's ideas is what it takes to turn a regular old task force into an ensemble, says Robert Lowe, an actor and consultant who has just published "Improvisation Inc.: Harnessing Spontaneity to Engage People and Groups" (Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2000). It's the difference between giving the "yes, but" response and the "yes, and" response. "Yes, but" sends a mixed signal--both acceptance and rebuttal, he says, while, "yes, and" acknowledges as well as advances an idea.