Improv skills lead to success

Listening as cooperation, not competition

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Improvisers need to listen carefully to create effective scenes. Everything we do in a scene is based on what came before. Even the start of the scene builds on the audience’s suggestion. Listening seems like an easy enough skill – you accept input from an audio source and incorporate it into your thoughts. If only it were that simple. Listening is a lot more complex than that, especially if you bring your own agenda to the conversation. For the next couple of posts, I’ll focus on the different types of listening and how you can do a better job as a listener.

There are quite a few good books on listening, but I recommend John Kline’s Listening Effectively from Air University Press. Air University is the U.S. Air Force’s professional development wing and it produces some very interesting work of use to leaders in every industry. Kline identifies several different types of listening, which I’ll describe in subsequent posts, but he also describes what your approach has to be to listen well.

In brief, you should listen with the goal of understanding the other person’s position. That approach is in contrast to the very natural and tempting tactic of listening to pick out keywords you can use as hooks to advance your own position. If you think of listening as a cooperative activity instead of a competition, you can improve your relationships and get the information you need to make good decisions.

Written by curtisfrye

April 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm

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