Today’s post was written by Brett Slater, Chief Social Media Officer at The Latimer Group.
Improvisation fascinates me. A recent passion of mine has been improv comedy, and I’m a huge fan of jazz and jam bands, both of which lean very heavily on improvisation as a tool.
Part of my fascination with the improv concept stems from the wonder and magic that can happen when a free flow of ideas occurs among players. When people truly collaborate, any suggestion is viable, and any outcome becomes possible.
In order for that magic to happen — whether onstage, in a comedy scene, or even in the workplace – one thing has to happen first: Acceptance. A suggestion, idea, or scene choice must be agreed upon by the other players… The cardinal rule of improv is that no denials are allowed. “Yes and” is how each player is to approach any given scene. As soon as you deny a reality presented by your scene partner, the scene stops. “Yes and” moves you forward, whereas a “no” hinders momentum.
Similarly, when collaborating in the workplace, decide to accept others’ ideas first, even if later on it turns into a denial. But start with “yes.” Get the conversation going, and moving forward. Do your best to listen to your client, customer, or colleague. Try to find the “yeses” in your communication with others – seek common ground and affirmation. Even a polite rejection of an idea can mean that person may choose NOT to contribute next time, and that’s a lousy place for collaboration to flourish.
How would your communication change if you knew ahead of time that your answer would always start with “Yes?”