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by Darren Held

By Sonnjea Blackwell

As promised, a blog about how improv can help you in your job! And not by providing clever ways to tell your boss he’s an idiot. You’re on your own there.

But it occurred to us that some of you out there work for real companies that require you to show up, wear something other than PJs and, I dunno, do stuff. We’ve heard about jobs like that, and we’re not sure we approve. Nevertheless, they seem to be here to stay, so we’ll help you make the most of them!

There are literally thousands (okay, a few dozen) of ways improv can help you in your workplace, but the thing that struck me this week was that people are often afraid to share their ideas for making improvements. I did a little Googling and I learned that there are a couple of reasons for this. One is that people are so used to their ideas being shot down in all areas of life, that they finally stop having them. And when a random idea does float through their brain, they dismiss it as being too weird, or not original enough or just plain dumb. The other reason is that the corporate culture in America tends to reward the “Big Idea” – giving rise to the notion that smaller ideas are unimportant. Employees get the message that, unless they come up with a billion-dollar idea that revolutionizes the world, there’s really nothing they can do to improve things in their company.

Fortunately, improv can help with both of those problems. We only have space to address the first one today; we’ll tackle the “Big Idea” problem another time. Now, in a perfect world, you would bring your entire company (or at least the department) along with you to a Held2gether Corporate Workshop. But if that’s not possible, you can still at least get yourself to a Held2gether improv class and learn some stuff.

The basic premise of improv is “Yes, and” which means you agree with what the other person just said, and then you add on to that idea. After a little while of people agreeing with your kooky ideas and adding their own kooky thoughts to yours, you start to feel more comfortable having kooky ideas. And like any muscle, when you start to exercise your creative kooky idea muscle, it gets stronger and you start to have more and more creative kooky ideas.

And because you know what it feels like to have your ideas accepted, you get braver in sharing them. And when your department or company implements your idea and it saves money or reduces waste or increases productivity, you are a hero and you get even braver in sharing ideas. Of course, if the rest of your department is still stuck in the “No, but” way of thinking, you might be facing an uphill battle. But since you have this newfound creative spark, we’re sure you can come up with a way around the naysayers!

And if not, you will have at least learned some very important interviewing skills for landing a better job with a company who will appreciate you and your kooky ideas. You’re welcome.

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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