With all the political arguments and back biting going on lately something has become very clear to me. Congress needs to take improv classes.
No...this is not a joke. At Second City Communications (one of my other jobs) we use improv to help businesses and other organizations across the globe be more efficient, empathetic communicators. Doesn't that sound like something congress could use?
So what is the magic "improv formula?" It's pretty basic really...
Listen – really listen. Don't just wait for your turn to talk....LIS-TEN. Hear what others are saying and why they are saying it.
Don't interrupt – Let people talk. Let them finish talking. You might learn something. Too often we don't talk...we over talk. Just watch any one of a number of TV "news" programs and you'll see what I mean.
Yes, And – This is the basic notion of improv. It means "be in a space of acceptance". You don't have to agree....but you have to accept the validity of everyone's point of view. This allows you to see the potential of what ideas could be before you focus on what they can't be.
Be willing to change - Improvisors have a unique ability to separate themselves from their ideas. We know when to put aside our personal agendas for the good of the whole. Dave Pasquesi – A Second City alum and brilliant performer once said "True listening is just a willingness to change". You don't have to change....but you have to be willing to change. That opens the door for compromise and possibility.
We put up "Rush Limbaugh: The Musical" in 13 days. A bunch of different actors, from different backgrounds, with different ideas and different egos walk into a room and 13 days later have a successful piece of theater. We couldn't do that without using the tools I've talked about above.
So...Congress...don't think politicians. Think like improvisors. I'll bet you that you'd get more done...and help restore a good measure of respect and civility to the process.
After "Rush" is over I'd be glad to come to Washington and teach some workshops....just contact The Second City.