Improv Tip #1 for... 
Greater Business and Personal Success

How to make friends more easily, develop better working relationships, and exude confidence expressing your ideas. 

Let's cut to the chase. This tip is geared toward 3 things:

  • ​Unleashing your natural creativity. 
  • Being more in the moment with people, so that you can connect with them.
  • Relating with others in a way that makes them feel valued.

Let's start inside your own mind.

Let's pretend you want to go talk to an attractive stranger. You think, "No, if I do that I'll be rejected." 

The moment slips away. You do the rejecting in advance - to save yourself the possibility of rejection. And, another opportunity is lost.​

Now, imagine you're in a business meeting and you have a great idea. You think about sharing it with your boss. But, then you think, "No! What if they think it's stupid? What if I can't describe it well enough? Maybe I'll share it later..."

Another one bites the dust.

​You're on a job interview and they ask you to share previous successes. You think through your experience and have lots of ideas. But, you sit there thinking, "No, that one really wasn't because of me. And, this one will probably sound dumb. Maybe this other... no, I don't know!" 

You eventually answer, maybe even giving a great answer. But, in the time that you were thinking, you looked desperate and agitated. They get the impression that you had trouble thinking of any successes. Or, perhaps, that there were failures you'd prefer not to share.

In fact, you just couldn't decide what to say.  ​

"An average idea you act on 
is worth 1,000 amazing ideas you push aside."

​A key idea of improv is accepting and adding onto ideas. This is the concept of "Yes, and..."

The "Yes" agrees with whatever is offered. It creates a positive and accepting atmosphere. 

The "and..." takes the idea and runs with it. It helps to build energy, excitement, and momentum.

You think of approaching that attractive stranger and say, "Yes, and I'll ask them on a date."

You have the opportunity to speak up at work and you say, "Yes, and I'll demonstrate how my idea works right now."

You're asked about your successes and rather than wasting time analyzing, you just share one. Then, you say, "Yes, and I have others if you'd like to hear more."

This may sound Pollyanna-ish. It's not. You have to practice this. Otherwise, your habitual negative thoughts will take over. You'll block your own ideas out of habit.

The best way to practice this is in an improv class, where it's fun and there are no real consequences. Because, you can get used to putting yourself out there and pushing your comfort zone in a safe way.

That's an explanation of how that applies to your "Inner Game." Meaning, your own thoughts and ideas.

The same concept applies just as much in your relations with others:

​"Do you want to have dinner? Maybe Thai food?"

"No, I'm not hungry. And, I hate Thai food!"

"I've got this great idea: let's go on vacation to Hawaii this year!"

"No way! We just spent money on the garage, we can't afford it.​"

​"I love your shirt!"

"This? It's not a shirt, actually. It's a sweater. It's actually rather old, I just didn't have anything nicer that was clean. Oh, but thanks."

(Have you ever been corrected when you try to compliment someone?
It doesn't feel good, does it?)

​These are all fights in the making. When you reject, criticize, and condemn another person's ideas, you pay a price...

I met a woman who said that her adult children only spoke with her once a week. She begged them to call more often, but they didn't want to.  That was before she did improv.

After she took some classes, they started calling her several times a week and spending time with her far more often. They told her she had stopped being a nag. They said she was more fun. 

People spend time with people they enjoy. It doesn't matter if you're their parent, spouse or boss. If you make them feel bad, they can always jump ship. They can stop calling. They can get a divorce. They can find a new job. 

The good news is, it's very simple to become someone who people love to spend time with. There's a step-by-step way to take on habits that make people feel supported, connected and at ease with you. And, you'll have more fun in the process.

Agree and keep the ball rolling...

"​Dinner? Yes, I'd love to. There's a new Thai place up the street. And I may not eat anything because I'm full, but I'd love to chat." 

"​Hawaii? Yes, and I'd love to swim with dolphins! And, we'll want to find a way to make it work for our finances."

"My shirt? Thanks! And I have a great story about when I bought it..."

You see? It rewards them for what they offer, and ramps up the energy.

This doesn't ​mean blind acceptance. There may still be things to take into account (like the money it costs to go to Hawaii.) That just means you start with acceptance, then address concerns afterward.

And, there are a huge, huge number of times when people reject ideas not on based on merit, not on principle, not on value... but because of habit. They just have the habit of saying no. How do you change that? With training and practice.

This is vital in businesses. In business meetings, people are constantly shooting down ideas. ​Hours get wasted, people feel hurt, and amazing possibilities get lost forever. All because of thoughtless communication. 

Many companies bring in improv training -- companies like Pixar, Google and Disney. And many now find ways to enforce these concepts. For example, if you're in a meeting and you shoot down someone's idea, you have to put a dollar in the collection jar.

That's because those companies realize the immense value of ideas.

Because of all that, practice saying "Yes, and..." Accept ideas and build on them.  Do that with both the ideas of others and with your own.

You'll find you have more enjoyable conversations, ideas will flow more easily, and you'll take advantage of more opportunities.

Comments? Questions? Want advice?

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