Improv skills lead to success

Repetition Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

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Humans crave variety. It’s easy to get bored in a job where you repeatedly encounter the same scenarios, whether as part of a customer service job or, perhaps surprisingly, as a lawyer. Yes, a lot of the law is repetitive, especially for young lawyers learning the basics of their practice area. In a field bound by precedent, you spend a lot of time adding details to templated filings your firm has used for years.

Improv provides a welcome relief from the drudgery of the office, but it’s possible for improvisers to get into ruts. If you work with the same group for several years, you end up doing a lot of shows with the same cast. Sure, every show’s different, but they’re not that different. And, humans being what they are, the suggestions you get won’t be that different if you keep asking for the same things. So ask for new suggestions! Don’t go for the standard categories of occupations and animals — ask someone to describe their imaginary friend or a machine they’d like to invent.

For those of you in the corporate world who don’t have a lot of flexibility in how you do your job (yet), make those hallway conversations count. Don’t try to be funny all the time, but use your listening skills to make offers that advance conversations and learn more about your colleagues.

Bonus hint: You can often get superb customer service if you make your rep’s day better. Be nice. Answer their questions directly. If there’s a moment where the conversation pauses because the computer’s slow, make an offer! If you’re talking with a cable company about a bill, mention a show you watched and liked. If it’s a store, mention a good experience you had. The person helping you might not want to interact with you, but if they do, you might have a brief but fun conversation about a topic of mutual interest. You will have gotten what you wanted (and maybe a little extra) and made someone else’s day brighter. Isn’t that why we perform?

Bonus bonus hint: Don’t hit on the rep, even if they sound cute. In fact, especially if they sound cute. They’re in Atlanta and you’re in Missoula…enjoy the conversation and move on.

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