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by Darren Held

Listening comes in handy, people. I’m just sayin’. If you listen to people, they feel like you’re respecting them and what they have to say. If you don’t, they feel like you’re dissing them or, quite possibly, that you’re a moron.

Yeah, yeah, this has to do with improv. Improv is all about listening. Before you can agree, add information or commit, you have to listen. I’ve seen plenty of scenes that didn’t work because one or more of the players didn’t listen to the others. Like this:

“I’m filing for divorce, Minnie. I can’t take another night of your snoring!”
“Look, Mickey, garden gnomes! Let’s get some for our garden!”

It’s bad enough not to have a sufficiently big reaction to something because you’re too casual in your scene; it’s even worse to have NO reaction because you didn’t bother to listen. And while I think garden gnomes are quite funny in and of themselves, they are not the logical response to the “you-snore-I-want-a-divorce” situation at hand.

In real life, listening is a skill that many people could improve upon. I had an encounter at a caffeine establishment this morning that left me convinced the order-taking-woman had an IQ of 8. In reality, she’s probably sporting average intelligence, but it’s masked by her nearly prodigious inability to process any information given her.

Listening is one of those skills that can improve your performance in virtually any job, even those not directly involved with customer service. Honestly, just feeling heard makes most people so happy, they’re instantly inclined to like the person who bothered to really hear them. It’s the easiest way to win friends and influence people… and the bonus is, when you listen to people, they start to listen to you.

Even if you already listen pretty well, improv class can still help you listen better. Plus, it’s totally fun! And I’m told many people enjoy “fun” so you might wanna check it out!

By Sonnjea Blackwell

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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