This is a continuation of my previous post regarding the principles of improvisation theatre and how they helped me improve both personally and professionally.
In improv, it is important to be honest to yourself and others. Don’t judge! Don’t judge others, your own feelings, thoughts, words and actions! Just accept them and continue. Communicate openly – don’t be afraid to share your opinion but communicate openly. Don’t focus on your feelings, as I mentioned in my previous post, your focus should be external, not internal.
Let go of your need to control
The good thing about improv is that even if you want, you cannot control anything. Being a control freak, I had a hard time getting used to that. But once I realized it and got used to the idea, I actually liked it a lot. Nothing depends on you, it is all team work. The only control we have is over our choices. We just have to move with the flow and be open minded. And this is actually extremely useful if we manage to do it during conversations and team meetings – realizing that we don’t control the situation brings us the relaxation we need to be open and creative.
There are no mistakes
In improv, there are no mistakes. And the choices that we make are seen as opportunities, not mistakes – there are no good or bad choices, we just call them choices. Everything is an opportunity and everything said can be build upon on. Same as while working in a team or doing a presentation – don’t be afraid if you forget something during a presentation or you sent the wrong email to the clients – all that is an opportunity to upgrade, build upon what you said or just laugh over it.
Another important principle of improvisation is trust. Trust yourself, trust others, and trust your instincts. What else do you need for a good conversation or a successful play?
Groups as a whole focus on solutions and individuals within groups should focus on how to bring the group closer to the solution. What I like about impro is that the focus is not on me, but on the whole group. A good play in improv means that everyone should look good and not just one person. That I call teamwork – being able to boost others’ good qualities and giving gifts to them.
In impro, we learn how to make connections – not only with other people but also with the surrounding environment. We learn how to visualize the place where we are, how to work together with that place and its emotional heritage. Sometimes it is better to just see things and show them to the public than actually state what they are and where you are.
One of my favorite principles of improvisation is connected to status or learning what the different statuses of a person can be. And the funniest part is that people actually enjoy it when you play a status that is not typical for his/her character. For example, a cleaning lady in the office acts like a boss and the boss is a really mild person, afraid to share his opinion. The most useful thing for me was to realize that you can change your status and control it, so that it works for you. While presenting in front of a big audience, for instance, or talking with important clients you have to hold the high status, so that they appreciate you and are willing to listen to you. It is not the same when you talk to your friends or colleagues. There are number of statuses, but the thing is that each status has something positive in it and it is hard to learn how to communicate in positive manner with every status.
The final and most important principle of improvisation or as I call it the “BIG Mantra” is Yes, And…!
Yes, And… means that you accept everything that happens as a gift, you acknowledge it as real and true and you try to build upon it. It means – “Yes, I accept your opinion and I find what you just said true, and we can improve it if we add to it”. This is the power of affirmation or acknowledging the reality and creating the future now.
What I learnt during the past months is that it is my own responsibility to develop myself personally and professionally, that I cannot control outer happenings and it is better to accept them and try to take advantage of them. I learnt to be open, honest and communicate actively with various people, because there is something you can learn from every person, and no person is better than other person, just different.