Improv(e) your social skills

A couple of years ago, I did something, I was skeptical about: Improvisation theatre.  

However, hearing from many friends and trainer, that they enjoyed it a lot, I gave it a try. I subscribed for an 8-session class. The group had one trainer and about 10 participants. The trainer was very experienced and he did a good job in getting us to observe our own behavior from a meta perspective. I can now tell that this was one of the best things I ever did.

First and foremost, seldom, I laughed so much and hard for such an extensive period. I cannot recall one session in which I didn’t have to cry from laughing so much. The reason for it was, because we made a lot of mistakes. It was a completely different way to deal with mistakes. Instead of criticizing each other, we just laughed and continued playing. Having an environment in which failing is okay, can give a lot of freedom. I also used one of the phrases from the classes for a leadership conference. I made one of the themes: Scheiter Heiter! (Failing is sexy). So, whenever we made a mistake. We raised our arms in the air, made ourselves as big as possible and said out lot: Scheiter Heiter. It is a wonderful alternation from our normal response; making ourselves as small as possible. Give it a try the next time you make a mistake =)

For me the best thing was to learn what it means to lay down my mask. I am speaking about the mask we are constantly wearing to appear in a certain way. Now, I think that keeping on that masks makes us numb to our own feelings and dreams. It is refreshing to be allowed to be silly from time to time and to be encouraged to be yourself. Although it is called improv theatre, it somehow helped me to be more authentic.

Another benefit of attending the classes was to get a boost in self-confidence. Few things can improve your self-confidence as making a fool of oneself. I more or less stopped to think about what other people think and expect of me. The good thing is that I could partially transfer this to my daily life. I think that attending classes regularly can even increase the effect.

One of the biggest learning came from one of the core principles of doing improv: saying YES. Do you want to jump around like a monkey? YES! Do you want to swim on the ground? YES! Do you want to be a boxer? OH YES! Normally, our initial reaction is to say no. To a certain degree it makes sense. I recently saw a video from a negotiator. He spoke about that we say no in order to avoid responsibility and commitment. Unfortunately, saying no often means we don’t allow new experiences. Or in a business context, saying no can demotivate or destroy a valuable idea. Saying yes although your whole body is telling you to say no takes a while, but it can be very rewarding.

Another skill you can acquire is to become more observant. To create a good flow of a story or a play, it is crucial to observe what the other players are doing. It is even better, if you are not allowed to talk. Analyzing body movement and gestures and facial expressions can tell you a lot about the intentions of another person. Also, improvisation theatre teaches you to use your face and arms and body. This way, you train yourself to be a better communicator.

I invite you to try it out yourself. I am confident that you will enjoy it at least as much as I did. Actually, the choice is easy. Doing something which makes you feel good, while learning something is a win-win.

Have you had experience with improvisation theatre? How was it? Are there aspects you didn’t like? And what are the things you took from it? Let me know in the comments below.

Have a wonderful day and take care =)

One thought on “Improv(e) your social skills

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  1. Excellent! I signed up for an improv class to meet new people, but not only did I meet some wonderful people, I also realized that there’s a lot we can take from improv and apply to everyday life!!! It was an eye opening experience that changed my life! I write about these changes on my site.

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