One rule of improvisational acting (especially in comedy) is to never respond to your co-actor by saying “no.” Using the word “no” is a quick way to halt momentum, stop the actors in their tracks, and break the energy of the act. In improv, it’s best to go with the flow, to maneuver through the energy, and re-direct it as you need.
Now, consider that in your conversations – at work or at home. Think about a conversation where requests are being made, or new directions or ideas are being considered. Think about the impact that a quick response of “no” has on the situation. How does someone respond when hearing a big “no?” How well understood do they feel? What impact do you think this will have on their receptiveness to your ideas?
This isn’t to say that “no” may not be the appropriate answer at some point, but how quickly do you jump to “no?” Which of the following sounds more like your default? “No, that’s not going to work.” “No, we can’t do that right now.” Or, “Let’s explore this and see what the possibilities are.”
It's those that look, by default, to understand the perspectives and ideas of others… those that truly listen for what’s most important to the other person… those that look for the value in what’s being presented or requested who have the ability to better meet other people where they are. They can demonstrate that they’ve heard what the other person is saying as they acknowledge the key points, and then they ask questions to appropriately clarify or challenge what’s being said. More often than not, this type of conversation will lead to new alternatives being created, which excites everyone.
Live on Fire!
D. Luke Iorio, CPC, PCC, ELI-MP
President & CEO
Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)