Improv for Introverts
Unexpected bedfellows unite on the spot
Posted Oct 24, 2013
I just chatted with Buelow on Twitter about the hidden gifts that improvisation offers introverts—and how you can practice some simple career-enhancing techniques every day. In case you missed it, check out a transcript of our tweets below about opening doors with two small words, answering tough questions on the spot, and reliquishing the pressure to be perfect.
NA: We're both passionate about improvisation for introverts. What about it excites you?
BB: That it is a fun, relatively safe way to practice the things that scare us, esp. thinking on our feet!
NA: Yes. Thinking on our feet is not one of our many natural gifts. So say more.
BB: Introverts R internal processors, so thinking out loud is uncomfortable. Improv gives us *tools* 2 practice in a safe space.
BB: Absolutely! It's 1 of my favs, too. It's abt accepting someone's offer+bldg on it, which diminishes fear of rejection.
NA: Saying yes keeps the conversation going, encouraging creativity and possibilities.
BB: Yes; once U start practicing it, U starting noticing how many conversations are shut down by "Well, no..." or "Yeah, but..."
NA: Indeed. "Yes, and" is a great tool for everything from job interviews, negotiations, to fielding Qs during Q and A sessions.
BB: Works at home, too! :-) It serves to acknowledge the other person's viewpoint + eases tension w/partners, kids, friends
NA: Right. We've been demonstrating "Yes, and" through this dialog. How about if we give an example of "blocking"?
BB: OK, in the spirit of daring to fail, you'll have to elaborate on that one. You go first :-)
BB: Oh, I think I know! :-) And no, let's talk about daring to fail first.
NA: Say you're in a sales conversation and the prospect says, "Do you have that in chartreuse?" and you don't. What do you say?
BB: Blocking: Sorry, we don't have that. We only have purple, yellow and red, and there are no other options.
NA: Yes & the prospect goes elsewhere. Instead you could engage the prospect, find out more about what they need. Build a bond.
BB: Exactly. "Oh, it sounds like you want to stand out! We have other colors on hand that might do the trick. What do you think?"
NA: Right. And let's say you get a lead for a gig and it's not right for you. You could just say, "No, thanks." What do you do?
BB: U cld say "Thanks for the opportunity. I'm better suited for this role over here + think Sally wld be perfect for the lead."
NA: Exactly. This way, everyone benefits, and you position yourself as a valuable connector (assuming Sally is an ace!).
BB: Yes, & that's an opportunity to make ur partner (in this case, Sally) look good!
BB: If the ??s feel tough, it might be b/c I don't have enough info. My first instinct is to ask ??s of my own for clarification.
BB: I might also say "I don't know right now. Can you tell me more?" That's forwarding action + releasing pressure to be perfect.
NA: Agreed. I like to paraphrase the question and/or comment on the question to buy time to let my introvert's brain process.
BB: Yes. Keep the other person talking, LOL! It gives me time 2 pick up words/ideas to riff off of until my thoughts are gathered
NA: Yes. The more they talk, the more I get to think!
BB: Agreed! Then the challenge is breaking into the talk when I'm ready to speak. That's when "Yes, and" is a gracious interrupter.
NA: Absolutely. Any other ideas about interjecting, which can be a real challenge for us introverts?
BB: I've used the universal (?) hand signal for "time out!" with a friendly :-), or a polite "I want to jump in here..."
BB: I also think introverts have to remember that talkers often *expect* to be interrupted. It's not always rude to them.
NA: That can work well. Also, I like to say the other party's name to get their attention. Important to smile when interjecting.
BB: Oh, yes, their name! I love that. It's like a snap back to the present.
NA: Any other improv techniques you'd like to share to help introverts succeed in business?
BB: So glad U asked. My FAVORITE is "be average." We think we have 2 "shine"+"be big"+"clever/funny." Trust that your offering...
BB: is going to be just right, perfect in its imperfection. Release the pressure that can come w/having to think of all sides...
BB: of an issue before speaking. Improv is great 4 practicing average. When we *try* too hard to be smart/funny/clever...
BB: it often backfires. It's when we trust ourselves to be ourselves that we're relaxed enough to shine in our own powerful way!
NA: Thought provoking advice. Insisting on being perfect is paralyzing. You'd never get out or say anything.
BB: Instead of wrapping myself up in worries abt perfection, I shift to curiosity, "I wonder what's going to go wrong here?" ...
BB: and then I trust that I can handle whatever happens (thank U Susan Jeffers+"Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway"!)
NA: Yes, and if you can't, there's no use stressing over it. You can always say you'll follow up with more information.
BB: Stress is such a waste of time+precious energy! Breathe through it all + trust–that's my bottom line.
NA: We've covered a lot of ground: "yes, and," blocking, A's to tough Qs, interjecting, and boo hissing perfectionism.
NA: Any parting advice on improv for introverts?
BB: Find a workshop or class + give it a try! Or, just pick a principle, like "Yes, and" + practice it daily. Just like...
BB: anything that's new, it'll be uncomfortable 4 a while. But that will fade + ur confidence will build. It's worth the effort!
BB: Oh, and you might just surprise yourself and have FUN.
NA: Thank you for all your advice and insights for the quiet crowd. Yes, make improv a daily practice - starting today.
BB: Thanks, Nancy- this has been fun! Here's to introverts+improv=new introvert superpowers!
NA: Er, not to mention the business results....
BB: Always! Sounds like fodder for another Twitter chat... :-) Until then!
NA: What can I say, but "yes, and"? Until then, happy improvising.
© Copyright 2013 Nancy Ancowitz
Minor edits were made to the exchange above.