What I learned as an Introvert at an Improv Class

One of Andrew’s meetup findings included a networking event held at New Tech Seattle. It was a one of the better networking events we’ve ever been to. Believe me, after 30 professional years, that’s quite a few events we’ve succumb to.

At the event, they also announced a new Improv Class that was scheduled for the next evening at the same building. Sure! Why not? If it’s anything like Who’s Line Is It Anyway, it should be a blast.

Also, it was structured to improve communication in the workplace.

Huh? How is improv going to help me in corporate ‘murica?

That evening, we were introduced to Andrew, an actor and improv business coach of Jet City Improv. Unfortunately, we started late due to late arrivals, but he managed to teach us a few tricks to help our communication skills for both work and home.

If you know me, you know that I mention that there is formula for everything and on occasion, I publish customer scripts for artists who want to build a business.

One trick in particular on listening resonated with me, because as Boromir states, “One does not simply rant!
boromir-onedoesnotsimplyrant

So here it goes: On Listening, er Ranting…
We all want to be heard. In order to be heard, we must first be acknowledged. Many times the miscommunication stems from the lack of acknowledgment. From what I was taught, listening is a two-part structure:

1) If a person is ranting (and our initial reaction is to jump in and fix), we must allow s/he to vent it all out. Instead of jumping in and detouring the rant, bring your closed hand to your mouth and put your index finger knuckle on your lips as though you are thinking. This helps to keep oneself from jumping in and interrupting and thus, shows sign of respect to the person who is upset.

2) When they’re finished, repeat what they said “So, this is what I heard..”. Then ask them if:
-a) they just wanted to vent,
-b) need help to fix it, or
-c) just wanted someone to sympathize.

It works like a charm. The person feels that they’ve been heard.

If you’re a person who is doing the ranting, make sure you have the end game in mind. Tell the person(s) that when you’re about to explode, that this is what you expect of them. So,

A. Are you venting to blow off steam? Just tell them that you need to vent.

B. Need someone to sympathize with your frustration? Tell them you need to vent and need a bit of sympathy, or

C. Need help fixing the frustration? Tell them you’re upset, you need to vent, and you need to find a solution to fix this once and for all.

Outlining your frustration will help mitigate potential compounding issues. Who needs to layer on the misunderstood hardship like a bowl of soggy nachos when all you need is a fresh mint start to the challenge?

The funny thing is, earlier, when we were put into groups, a young woman ranted about how her colleague is acting her superior and giving her a ton of work to do –her work– in addition to what her boss is assigning. When she was finished ranting, I ran thru the above scenario. She responded that she wanted help to fix it. So the 3 of us who have 30 years experience in the workforce (90 years combined) gave her a number of articulate and actionable habits to begin her career. 🤓

As I look forward to future events, I may just enroll in Improv 101. 😎

Me thinks I’ve got the bug!

How about you? Have you taken an improv class to help you in the workplace? Would love to hear your experiences.

Cheers,
Lisa

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