3 Lessons You Can Learn from Improv That Can Totally Change Your Career
For many (this writer included), getting up on stage in front of an audience without even an inkling of a script (AKA improv) sounds like a total nightmare. But even though you may have no interest in pursuing a career in show biz, there are a few key improv techniques that can totally help you progress in the professional world. In fact, Zoe Galvez and Betsy Crouch have built an entire business based on exactly that.
1. Actually listen to what people are saying. In improv, this is known as “intentional listening.” Basically, it means making extra effort to actually listen and not interrupt while someone else is talking. Betsey tells us, “A lot of us are thinking about what we are going to say next while the other person is still talking, and as improvisors, if we do that we don’t hear what our partner on stage says, and in every scene we need to pay attention to all those details to create a narrative.” She goes on to say, “It forces an interaction and a conversation versus a dueling monologue.”
If you’re looking to put this into practice, they recommend an exercise called “Last Letter First Letter” where one partner says something and then the second person starts their sentence with the last letter of the first person’s sentence. For example, if one person said, “What time is that yoga class?” You could respond with something like, “Six o’clock, I think.” To make this practical in the work world, play this game without your coworker, client or boss knowing. By making an extra effort to hear the last letter they speak, you’ll end up listening more intentionally in the conversation.
2. Say Yes. Probably the most well-known improv tactic, the idea of saying “yes” is crucial to keeping a scene alive in the improv world. If someone on stage asks you a question and you respond “no,” you’ve basically killed the scene. Same goes for conversation at work. Zoe says to take note of whether you’re saying “yes and” or “yes but.” If the latter, she advises, “see if you can replace the but with an and. You can still say the same thing and yet it’s easier for the listener to hear you.”
3. Celebrate your failures. Zoe says, “So many of us are so hard on ourselves when we make mistakes — especially women, I would say. We’re perfectionists, of course we want to do our best, and yet sometimes, we’re going to make mistakes. It’s important to know that out of those mistakes there are learning opportunities. As an improviser, when that happens we quickly get back up on our feet and are resilient.”
To this Betsey adds, “When we talk about celebrating failure, we mean celebrating the willingness to take a risk, the willingness step out of our comfort zone, the willingness to make a bold choice… We’re not necessarily celebrating the failure itself. Obviously, it’s hard to fail and it doesn’t feel good and we want to avoid it, yet we know that it’s going to happen sometimes, so how do we approach it? We say, great job taking a risk. What did I learn? And then move forward.”
What’s your secret to staying successful in the professional world? Share with us in the comments below.
(Photos via Getty)
Pocket doors are so delightful in and of themselves. They appear when you need them, get tucked away when you don't, and make it easy to define rooms while keeping an open floor plan. Add to the pocket door a joyful patterned wallpaper surprise, and you will be sent right into fits of visual jubilation! Or something ;) Today we're sharing two simple and impactful pocket door makeovers that zhuzh up your space in a jiffy.
Anjelika Temple here, co-founder of Brit + Co and proud owner of several pocket doors! When I moved into my first real grown-up house a couple years ago, I knew I wanted to incorporate wallpaper so reached out to our friends at Chasing Paper to see how we might collaborate. It felt like a total lightbulb moment when I realized I could create a surprise pop of pattern on a couple sets of pocket doors.
Not only is it a whimsical way to bring color into a space, but the doors double as picture-perfect backdrops for all your SFH (selfies from home, obvs).
A few pro tips about install:
- Removable wallpaper is miraculously forgiving! You can take it on and off multiple times without it losing integrity (or mucking up your surface).
- I ordered this adhesive wallpaper installation kit with a squeegee and xacto knife and it worked super well. I also recommend a sharp pair of scissors for cutting longer lines.
- This is a two-person job! Get a friend, put on a playlist, and get ready to bond.
- Wild, organic patterns like Tally are great because it's challenging to spot any imperfections in pattern alignment; keep pattern choice in mind if you've got a lot of corners to match up. More geometric patterns and larger shapes leave less room for error (but are awesome in their own right!).
BATHROOM POCKET DOORS
In our primary bathroom, we chose the wallpaper pattern Tally, designed by Kelly Ventura, in White and Navy. In our space, the navy reads as a soft black, which is perfect for the space. It's easy to combine an ever-rotating collection of linens with the Tally pattern.
I love how the white trim becomes the perfect frame around this pocket door piece of art.
My favorite moment in this space is the fact that you actually get a third pop of pattern thanks to our serendipitously placed mirror!
And yes, this one works pretty darn well as a backdrop too ;)
LIVING ROOM DOUBLE DOORS
This set of doors is definitely a focal point of our home. It separates our living room from our primary bedroom which opens onto our backyard. The doors are pretty much always open, but when they're closed we wanted to evoke a fun, nature-inspired vibe. With that in mind, we selected the Lines and Moons pattern by Thimblepress in Green and Brown.
Earth mama vibes up in here! I love how the shapes and colors echo the ferns you see through the windows and the acorn wood details throughout the house.
Love this pattern moment, and xacto-ing out the door handle is def on the oddly satisfying DIY list.
For a pattern lover like me, I love that now I have this instant photo backdrop!
Thanks to Chasing Paper for providing these rolls of pure pattern amazingness. Head to chasingpaper.com to find our own favorites and start adding patterns to your home!
(Wallpaper wingwoman: Kayla Haykin; Photography: Kurt Andre)