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Using Improv in the Workplace

Recently our team attended a workshop with a focus on using improv to enhance communication both internally and externally. The premise is simple. Improv performers don’t know what will happen onstage from one scene to the next, yet they must accept the reality of a situation and react accordingly. That means they must be present in the moment, listen carefully (rather than think about what they’ll say next) and be willing to contribute to the conversation.


One of the principles we learned was the “Yes, and…” approach. No matter what your fellow actors (or teammates, or clients) present to you say “yes, and…” then add to it. This simple technique allows you to hear other perspectives with openness. It’s amazing how others respond in kind when they know you’re giving their opinions credence. Think of it as a softening mechanism or a path that ultimately leads to better, more open communication. An added bonus is that when you’re the person saying yes to other people, they start to bring you their best ideas. That’s something we can all say “yes” to.


To sum up:


1) Always allow someone to finish what they are saying before you begin your response.


2) Find common ground to agree on before you express disagreement. (Yes, and…..)


3) Don’t sacrifice listening by dreaming up your response. Trust that your years on this earth have armed you with the knowledge to respond accordingly when the time comes.


We’d love to hear your experiences using improv in the workplace.  Feel free to post here!


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