Saturday, March 14, 2015

Business Improvisation for Better Conflict Resolution

 Improvisational techniques have become popular as conflict resolution tools for business managers around the world. One of the primary benefits of improv is that it teaches employees to communicate - especially when a situation becomes heated and emotional. Improvisational techniques help us to relax and roll with the punches.
When I worked in the human service field, I used laughter and improvisation as part of a health and wellness program. My job was to help my clients manage stress and to develop positive social connections. The techniques that I used taught them to take a step back and think creatively before reacting to tough situations.
I recently delivered a workshop for a group of employees at a local human service agency.   The group I was working with deals with crisis situations on a daily basis.  They stated that they were feeling stressed out, and at times, dealing with tense situations on a continual basis. Also, they felt that they were not being supported in the challenging work that they do. 
As I worked with this group and started playing the improv games, they began having fun and seeing the connection between learning points of the games and their work. The participants shared with me that they started to develop connections with their co-workers and getting support from them. The interactions started to give them the confidence to tackle difficult situations.   

How Improv Techniques Work - at Work
The thrill for me as a trainer and player is the fact that I am directly participating in the resolution of a crisis. As a trainer - once I get a clear idea of the business challenge - I’m able to begin the process of challenging my clients. The goal is to help them learn to communicate while under stress and deal with the unknown. The adrenaline begins to flow for the participants. Senses heighten and they become present in the moment.
My fellow participants and I all agree that we are faced with an emergency of the highest level.  Solve the problem right in front of the audience! There is no going back!  In short, we improvise and exhibit spontaneity in our everyday lives, although we do not always realize it. There are three important elements that have made improv performers successful. These transfer over to the business world when dealing with conflict. 

Leave Your Comfort Zone Behind
Stepping outside your comfort zone can sound pretty intimidating. Being taken out of our comfortable routines means being faced with who-knows-what as an outcome. Who wants that?  Especially when  the stakes are high. “What if” begins to fill your mind and bad outcomes are visualized. Enter fear and anxiety. If not prepared, this can cause fear and keep us stuck. But if having played enough, the joy of going out into the unknown and discovering something new is exciting!  Out of the flames of crises, something amazing rises from the unknown.  A new beginning; a new insight; a new perspective emerges and we seek out the next time when we face a new crisis. We are so much more equipped now!
If you practice the art of improvisation, you prepare yourself for the inevitability of change and actually learn so much on how to handle conflict in work and in everyday life.  This helps us grow as human beings.

Three Tips for Improvising at the Office

Stay Present in the Moment:  People need to be able to focus on what they need to do. So, in order to be present, we need to be able to let go of the past, and not be concerned about the future.
Acceptance:  People understand the difference between acceptance and agreement, and they take what they’re given and deal with the reality. In other words, they deal with reality not what they would like it to be. They deal with people as they are rather than wishing they could change them.
Trust:  Trust the process rather than worrying about whether something is going well and will turn out the way you want it to be. When we can trust, we will continue to move forward. This allows us to suspend judgment and to be more open to unforeseen situations.

Thinking that a little spontaneity could get your employees moving, let’s talk about how we can work together.  Click here for a glimpse of how I can bring improv to you (

Thanks for reading,

Trevor Smith

1 comment:

  1. You are so right Trevor,
    Improv can improve conflict resolution skills along with all other aspects of business. Improv fosters confidence, creativity and connection. All needed for a great business and a great life