Everyone loves a good laugh. Humor is a joyful common ground that brings people together, personally and professionally. Businesses that incorporate humor and good nature into their products, services, and everyday culture give off a much more personal vibe, and consumers are attracted to that.
From the early days of Groucho Marx to the quirky sketches from Portlandia, improvisational comedy has been entertaining audiences for ages. While doing improv on stage is a great way to get a standing ovation at a theater, there are also a number of ways you can apply it at your workplace to improve your business.
Just remember these two words:
The “Yes, and…” concept is a standard improvisational comedy rule, often described as the cornerstone of improv technique. According to this rule, improvisers are encouraged to agree with the ideas and direction of their stage partners during a scene and continue those ideas forward, rather than disagreeing and trying to take the scene in a different direction. Improv actors who use “Yes, and…” are much more easily able to keep a scene going, lead to more humorous actions or situations, and ultimately get a bigger laugh and a better reaction from the audience.
Here’s an example: this classic scene from Anchorman, a movie in which many of the lines were improvised.
Instead of each actor trying to establish the lead and take the scene in his own direction, they build the scene off of each other’s lines, continuing the idea and leading to the hilarious conclusion that Brick is probably wanted for murder.
This same idea can be applied to the business world. Not murder. The “Yes, and…” rule.
INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY (AND MORALE)
While brainstorm sessions can be productive when one person leads the discussion, you can implement “Yes, and…” to foster creativity, encourage additional ideas, and collaborate on new ways to operate.
Running a business is a team effort, so it makes sense to use the brainpower of your entire team to achieve success. Give your co-workers and employees a chance to share their thoughts. Say yes, accept those thoughts, and run with them for a minute. Let the ideas flow freely and without judgment, and unless Kevin keeps suggesting “No Deodorant Wednesdays,” you’ll be surprised to see how far it’ll take you. This can also help boost morale in your workplace.
TURNING OBSTACLES INTO OPPORTUNITIES
This happens more often than not, unfortunately: You hit a roadblock on a project. A co-worker wants to do things his way instead of your way.
The “Yes, and…” rule can help you reframe your perspective and view a seemingly negative situation as an opportunity. If your co-worker is insisting on moving forward with his ideas, give him a chance. Say yes, work with that direction, and build onto it with your ideas, instead of pulling away into a different direction. By changing your attitude toward the circumstances given to you, you can sidestep any resentment or negativity and turn the situation into a positive one. Also, if you’re willing to work with someone else’s ideas, it’s more likely that they’ll be willing to work with yours moving forward.
PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE
The future can be intimidating. Full of mystery and risk, the path that lies ahead is usually preceded by a number of difficult decisions. This can lead to a drastic increase in stress and anxiety. You can use the “Yes, and…” mentality to combat this stress and turn your future into something you eagerly anticipate.
Over the course of your career, your job (and your life) will throw some curveballs your way. The best way to stay alive at the plate is to figure out how to adapt to the unexpected circumstances that are placed in front of you. Practice the “Yes, and…” mindset: Say yes, accept the things that come to you, and roll with it. Your company wants to use different software than what you’re used to? Try it out, and see what you can do with it that you couldn’t do before – it might actually make your job easier. Your boss decides to replace “Casual Fridays” with “Hawaiian T-Shirt Fridays?” Aloha! Now you’ve got a great reason to grab some Hawaiian pizza for lunch.
By slighting shifting your attitude, you can greatly improve your level of satisfaction at your workplace, enhance your enjoyment of your personal life, and increase your chances of eating more pizza. And let’s face it, that’s the most important thing of all.