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Improv trains communication skills because it shines a light on the interactions we have every-day, and the pit-falls that can occur within them. Most communication problems stem from poor listening: we miss verbal and non-verbal clues about how our colleagues and clients think and feel. This leads them to feel that we haven’t understood them, this creates resentment.

We train active listening skills. Listening starts from a position of humility: it’s about accepting that great ideas are produced by great teams working well. Great individuals thrive in great teams, but ego can stop us listening and collaborating well. In improv we are taught to make each other look good. Every player knows someone has got their back, which builds trust. The key to collaborating is a philosophy of saying “Yes, and…”. That is to listen to, accept, and then attempt to build on another person’s idea with an attitude of enthusiasm and optimism.

Leaders set the tone in a business: they create the culture and the atmosphere in the building. Therefore these core improv skills of listening and saying “Yes, and…” are massively important tools in your leadership arsenal. Listening makes good business sense too: if you don’t listen to staff and customers you may miss feedback and ideas that could improve the bottom line. Further, learning how to collaborate well helps keeps staff happy, allowing you retain talent in the long run and let’s face it: happy staff are productive staff.

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