Back in March, the Boaz crew celebrated our 6 year anniversary. We knew we had a surprise activity planned but no one had come close to guessing what it was going to be. We all jumped into a Zoom link that gave us a message that for some, evoked excitement and for other quite a bit of anxiety: Boaz Partners Improv Session. It was from there that we were brought together as a group to learn and understand the value of improv from the incredible mentors at Improvolution. Immediately we were laughing, getting creative and working together as a team through improv exercises. Ultimately, we came away with some major takeaways, not only about how this can help us as chemical recruiters, but also how these skills practiced can help improve everyday career skills.
Listening, not preparing
We all learned from the get-go that active listening was a must while working through improv exercises. There is a difference between listening and actively listening. Active listening is listening to the whole picture being painted; the goal is understanding, not just hearing. Many of us find ourselves initially listening, and then spending the rest of the time preparing our response. This takes away from being able to fully understand. Improv makes you give up the control we find ourselves wanting in a conversation. There is no predicting what is going to be said or how you are going to react. It forces active listening and responding to what is given in the moment. Imagine this being applied in everyday work. Meetings could be more productive, and teams could work better feeling more heard, understood and validated when they speak. Letting go of planning and implementing active listening creates a space for teamwork and support.
Trust yourself and trust your team
Whether it is a sales pitch, speaking up in a meeting, proposing a new idea, or for us recruiters, picking up the phone, we often find ourselves likely over preparing. We know the outcome we are hoping for, so we prepare to try to push that outcome. In reality, we need to trust ourselves and trust our team. In one improv exercise we practiced, we were each asked a question, silly ones of course. The goal was to give five responses as quick as possible. The catch was that they didn’t need to make sense. The idea was to trust ourselves to think on the spot, be open and allow creativity to flow. It opened our minds and encouraged us to trust ourselves in what we would come up with in the moment without the fear that we couldn’t prepare enough. Trust your knowledge, your experiences and let yourself be creative and think on the spot.
Improv is an act we perform everyday in our lives, whether we realize it or not. To ace these skills, we need to learn to actively listen to one another and to trust ourselves to be open, thinking on the spot and be okay with not planning every word and every move. Fine tuning these skills could help in your next meeting, or your next interview, or even pitching for a promotion. See what fine tuning those improv skills could do to help your career.
-Written by Ricky Foster: Business Development Manager & Specialty Chemicals Recruiter