Elizabeth Doty  wrote an article for Strategy + Business titled Using Improv to Transform How You Lead.

« To truly communicate, we need to connect. We need to let go of our message and actually engage with what others are offering. This is where “yes, and” becomes a philosophy, not just a tactic… By adopting this stance, leaders can open up frank conversations without compromising quality or outcomes, even on touchy subjects.  »

« Step 1: Expand your awareness.  [Kat Koppett, author of Training to Imagine explains:] “This means having the presence of mind to fully listen — not just to the content of what is being said, but to the emotions, values, and deeper interests involved.” … Imagine you walk into a meeting where a team is planning a product launch. How much do you notice? Do you take in the flip charts on the wall? Get a read on the energy level? Are they stuck or on the brink of a new idea? Leading effectively in that moment requires your full awareness and undivided attention. Yet many employees struggle to get on their leaders’ radar. »

« Step 2: Say “yes” to what is offered. The next step is to accept what others are communicating. “‘Yes’ does not mean agreeing… It means accepting what exists without attempting to dismiss, avoid, or invalidate it… What if you walked in and said, “You’re making this too complicated. Here’s how I would approach it.” … You have already blocked real engagement by failing at the outset to show an interest in the team’s way of thinking about the problem. Instead, ask yourself, “What can I accept here?” »

« Step 3: Add to what is emerging. Finally, it is your turn to add to the picture. Ask yourself: “How can I build on these ideas or perspectives?” You might add some details to the plan or ask a question to draw out more of their vision, in a way that clearly connects to their thinking. The goal is not to debate competing ideas but to create something new together…  You can do this even while disagreeing. For example, you might say, “I like the basic idea, and I think we could make the plan simpler. What if we just used steps three and four?” Through this give and take, you and your team are developing a broader view of your options. This allows you to choose a more effective course of action or decide where they need more data to reconcile their views. »


See also Schtick to Business by Peter McGraw.

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