Once upon a time, in an attempt to "lighten up" my serious nature, I took an improv class. (LOL) The sessions were fun and also quite challenging. While I still "work at" lightening up, I have enjoyed using some of the improv tools in workshops, trainings and retreats. I was intrigued, then, when a friend and reader of this monthly newsletter sent an article:
"Business Lessons from the World of Improv"
. The article is a transcript of a Wharton Business Radio interview with
, author of the book
Yes, And: the Art of Business Improv
. The attitudes, skills and intentions of improv are at the heart of initiating and engaging in conversations, of any kind, in our workplaces, communities and relationships.
The primary learning for me from the improv class was the meaning of being present to all there is
IN THE MOMENT. Improv is "showing up" for what is unscripted and unrehearsed. There's no time for analysis or second-guessing. As Kulhan explains: "What we look for in improvisation is a postponement in judgment . . . so that we can take in and absorb the offers and opportunities that are being presented to us . . . we put ourselves in a better position to make smart decisions based on a number of variables rather than what we think is right or wrong, in the way that we look at things through our specific lens."
Yes, and . .
is the #1 technique of improv. Taking the class, I experienced how easy it is to tend toward "Yes, but" or "No". In an improv set-up, "Yes, but" or "No" go nowhere! In saying "
", one confirms that he or she has received and absorbed what has been said and offered by another. The "
" follows listening creatively; "
" naturally invites another offering. Thus, a narrative emerges.
The thing is, in life, we often aren't unscripted and unrehearsed; we often aren't disposed toward being "improvisational". We have agendas, goals, strategies, needs, history, opinions, judgments, assumptions, beliefs, preferences, commitments. Still, conversations ARE the way we think and "be" together - IN THE MOMENT - a moment, which is, by its essence, unscripted and unrehearsed. Conversations are, essentially, improvisational moments. The tool of "Yes, and. . ." is both a fun and serious way to increase our capacity to listen generously, postpone judgment, and relate empathically - in the moments - we offer one another in conversation.
I hope you will be able to take 12 minutes to enjoy the TED talk by Galen Emanuele below. He communicates the "heart and soul" of "Yes,
and . . .". You might have fun sharing the video with family, friends or colleagues. It could be used easily for team-building, staff development, or a community gathering.