Professional improv actor Dan O’Connor recently sat with Business Insider to share how incorporating the golden rules of improv acting into your everyday life can prove fruitful both at work and home.
1. The classic “Yes, and…”
You’ll get more out of any given interaction by ‘yes-anding,’ O’Connor purports. The tool is not only used to advance the narrative—conversation or meeting, in our case—it teaches you to be mindful of others’ suggestions and learn to roll with what you’re dealt. Bear in mind that the word “no” is not forbidden; but, any attempts to halt the ongoing process should be avoided. After all, the image of a colleague shutting down an idea is all too familiar. With an abundant ‘yes and’ spirit comes a more supportive environment in which conversations and stories are furthered.
2. Praise and believe in your partner
A conversation or presentation where you’re actively listening and open to learn goes a long way. When you focus on what your partner is bringing to the table, "Neurosis and self-doubt that come from internalizing your own fear go away,” according to O’Connor. In this way, you live in the moment and, if both parties are participating, you are creating a more comfortable and natural exchange rather than one where you’re stuck in your head.
3. Failures are your friend
"Some of the funniest stuff in improv is when people make mistakes and then use those mistakes to change the story," O’Connor says. Translated into the workplace, it’s more enjoyable when you embrace your flaws and keep your head up. We’ve all had that time where we fumbled on our words or spilled coffee in the middle of that meeting, or at the very least witnessed another commit an office blunder. When you (or the unnamed culprit) laugh it off and keep going, everyone can breathe easier—or even with a chortle.
Photo: The Second City