Some ideas come to us and we can’t remember how we came up with them. This is how I felt sitting on a chair in the middle of the stage at the Bovie Metropolis Theater, known as “The Bovine” to those of us who frequent its doors. It was over 10 years ago. I was going through a divorce. And I signed up to take Improv classes.
Well, I needed a paradigm shift. Something to jolt me back to who I was and who I wanted to become. As I was pushing quarters into the washing machine it became clear my life was on a detour from the trajectory I had declared I was on.
That class left a lasting impression on me. It made me a better leader. It made me a better communicator. And after all these years, I still find myself following some of the rules.
- Focus on the here and now.
- Give details.
- When new information is introduced, say “And.
- And…the one I use the most, instead of saying no…say, “Yes and…”.
This is how these rules translated to leadership for me.
- Being present allows one to be grounded. It allows you to get out of your head and to really listen to your team. Listen to what they are saying and to what they are not saying.
- Giving details is being clear and being clear is being kind.
- Assume there is always missing information. Saying “and” is an invitation for everyone to think just a little bit longer. It also creates psychological safety for people to speak up without feeling foolish that they did forget something.
- Starting any sentence, email, text with No is something to use sparingly. As a leader your words land in other people’s words with more weight. Saying No can be jarring for those receiving that message. Whether you are talking to an employee, a client, a family member…try Yes and….
Here’s an example…..
“Can I use the car?”
“Can I use the car?”
“Yes and…when you turn 16, get your license, I will teach you how to drive the car but for now you’ll need to use your tricycle because you are 7 years old”.
And to finish my story, my life got back on track just fine and the beautiful part is I literally laughed my way back.