I did a bite size one hour intro to improv with a delicious team of young, energetic finance/business people yesterday. It was fantastic. What a responsive group. They worked hard in that hour and managed to pull off fantastic things. Listening to everyone in the debriefing afterwards gave me strong clues that the idea of the positive, the ‘yes’, the listening, sharing and taking forward, had all taken hold. They (and I) were inspired afterwards. I left with such positive energy.
Then, on the plane home, I sat next to a woman, and her subordinate sat across the aisle from her, making it not only possible but unavoidable for me to hear their entire two hour interaction. Her ‘everything’ was exactly how not to be. Her style, energy, intentions and constant default to negative were so destructive.
I couldn’t help but make a few ‘notes to self’.
1. An improvisation experience tries to open the door to a different culture of communicating. the key words are fun, response ability, positivity.
2. We want to be able to trust people enough so that we can be vulnerable, make mistakes, take risks. We don’t want a culture of blame and passing the buck.
3. Negative conversations are dangerous. People spend so much time complaining when they talk to each other; often slagging off a third party, the competition, the boss, someone else in the team. Mostly, a culture of ‘what does she say about me?’ then pervades. People also spend so much time putting each other down.
4. In business, people often play cruel status games, where they are constantly on the lookout for the opportunity to hurt, crush, belittle or dismiss. I propose the opposite; the learning of habits that help us look for the moment to sincerely compliment, encourage, offer support, work together.
I got off the plane exhausted but happy. This woman’s subordinate got off the plane in a state of paranoid anxiety. The woman got off the plane expecting disappointment.