Something a little different this week…
I’ve been taking an improv class at Bad Dog Theatre company in Toronto. While I signed up for an 8-week course on the art of Improvisation, every week I am also learning a little more about myself, relationships, and emotion. And…inclusion!
In our warm-up exercises we practice passing invisible things to each other – ideas, or objects. Our instructor Jess Bryson is amazing (and funny), but there are deep lessons in these games. Some that keep coming up for me are:
- Speed doesn’t equal confidence. When we focus on getting the invisible thing to the next person, it’s messy and we make many mistakes. When we take our time and are intentional about it, the exercise flows much better.
- Eye contact is key. When we make eye contact first, then we guarantee success because the person we are sending the thing to knows it’s coming.
- Helping others succeed. Improv is about working together to create something. If I am only worried about myself, I very well may end up on stage alone – not literally, but figuratively – which isn’t the point at all. And less fun!
There are also things I’m learning about myself: recognizing my own fears about stepping into new things, and my propensity for perfection (and hence hesitation) – to name a few. Ultimately, everything we are learning is a metaphor for life. But if I focus on just the three things above, and apply it to inclusion, magic happens.
Food for Thought
If we take our time, and if we are really present with a situation or in a conversation with someone (instead of trying to get more done, passing on responsibility, or thinking of what we are going to say) we may actually connect with the other person(s) we are with. We may get more done, get it done more efficiently, or it may just feel better.
Eye contact in the game makes sure the person knows the invisible thing is coming. How often do we speak at people instead of to people? What if we connected first and then started the conversation. What would we see? Who would we see? How might the conversation change?
And then of course if we remembered that we were “in it together” how would that change our work? What if we were in tune with each other’s success? What would we need to know about each other to provide support?
Inclusion and Improv
Improv is also a great mirror for communication – because in a scene, sharing more information with your partner makes it easier on the person you are in a scene with to respond. Hmmm…just like life.
What if we took some of this Improv brilliance (slowing down, connecting and helping others succeed) and applied it to relationships and the workplace? Try it. Let me know what you notice…