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Seattle Improv Classes Message Board › Communication Secrets From the Improv World...

Communication Secrets From the Improv World...

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user 13880527
Group Organizer
Seattle, WA
Post #: 3
Business Improv is now taught in companies like Google, Pixar, and thousands of others, all over the world, to build communication and foster creativity. The same skills that allow you to create an entertaining scene from nothing, also can dramatically improve the quality of your life.

In the meetups, we've covered a lot of life-changing tools, insights and strategies. Because the skills we develop can vary radically each month, I'd like to recap some of the skills we've practiced lately.

Offers... Accepting... Blocking... Adding...

When someone contributes an idea, a perspective, anything at all, let's call that an offer.

If someone says, "Nice shirt." You could block that offer by saying, "It's actually not a shirt, it's a sweater."

Even if someone means to be humble, they are still blocking what the other person offered. "This old thing, I should have thrown it away a long time ago."

If you want to accept it, you could say, "Thanks!" Which allows us to agree with the other person.

If you want to accept and add, you could say, "Thanks, I got it on my vacation!" Now, you're accepting what they've offered and you're offering something back. This builds the momentum and energy.

There are easy phrases to use for practicing accepting and blocking, and for noticing which is happening.


This is an obvious block, and it's easy to pick out:
"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"No, it's full of tourists."

"Yes, but..."

This is basically the same as no, just attempting to hide it. A wolf in a sheep's clothing.
"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"Yes, but it's full of tourists."


A block to progress, stopping momentum without taking responsibility: A refusal to take a position. We'll call this wimping.
"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"Maybe, I don't know."


This accepts, though doesn't contribute anything:
"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"Yes, it is!"
"I've heard the surfing is amazing."
"Yes, me too!"

Often, in "polite conversation" this will be masked by phrases that mean nothing and add nothing. "I've always thought so!" "Who wouldn't agree?" "That's what they say!" (Who is this "they" anyway???)

"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"Yes, it's beautiful! That's what everyone says!"

False offers and pretend acceptance: "Doesn't, isn't, can't, won't..."

This can be a pretend offer and a sort-of acceptance:

"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"Yes, the weather isn't bad, and I wouldn"t be upset if I were there right now."

Do they agree? Hard to tell! They're pretending to give an offer... but all they've added is what isn't the case. Also...

Don't imagine a purple elephant! What do you imagine? You think of what I told you not to imagine.

People do this all the time:
"I want you to stop being late!" Do you want them to be 10 minutes early? Not to show up?
"I'm sick of fighting!" How about a vow of silence?
"That's not a bad idea!" Is it a good idea? A horrible idea?

It makes us imagine what isn't wanted and what's not the case. If we want to accept and add on to statements like this, it's challenging because we're adding to what isn't there.

"Yes and..."

Well known throughout the world as a key phrase in improv. It accepts what's given and adds to it, building momentum and pushing forward into unknown and unexpected directions.

"Hawaii is lovely this time of year!"
"Yes, and I've heard the world's largest observatory is on a volcano there."
"Yes, and they are searching for planets similar to the earth."
"Yes, and they've found enough to believe it's likely life exists on other planets."
"Yes, and the question is still whether intelligent life exist anywhere in the universe!"

In the world of improv or just in the world, someone who continuously blocks, who disagrees, kills momentum, who refuses to add anything... is just not fun to be around. And...

Someone who bravely accepts whatever is offered, adds to it, increases the momentum, and lets go of control to enjoy the unknown... is going to be way more fun, connect with more people and simply enjoy a better life.

And, since you have to be around yourself all the time, it may as well be you!

This does bring us to a few points. In order to successfully do all this, you must learn to:

  • Let go of control...
  • Accept other people's ideas as equally valid...
  • Let go of your own "great ideas" of what should happen...
  • Care more about creating an enjoyable interaction and experience than "being right"...

As you gain awareness of blocking and accepting, you'll also begin noticing how you do it to yourself.

"I did well there... Yes, but I could have done better."
"I want to take a vacation... No, I can't, I don't have the money."
"I want to meet that person... No, they wouldn't like me."
"What a dumb mistake... stop thinking so negatively!"

What if you could begin to change what you accept and offer inside of yourself? How might you transform yourself and your life?

More life-changing insights and powerful ideas coming soon...

Copyright 2016 by Chad Elliot, all rights reserved.
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