How the Teachings of Comedy Improv Can Bolster Communication Skills

You’re probably reading this thinking there is no way that improv comedy is relevant to a business in the pleasure products industry. I understand that, especially since this industry has worked hard for decades to build trust and demonstrate integrity. However, improv comedy isn’t what most people think it is.

Improv is creativity in action. Improv is charismatic communication. Improv is loving, open-minded and playful. Yes, improv is also funny. But we’re focusing on the practical uses of learning this Swiss-Army-knife art form.

Improv is such a versatile tool, it can have a positive impact on any industry. Buttoned up corporate executives have learned how to loosen up. Sales teams have learned innovative ways to engage with customers. Teams with poor communication skills have tightened them up.

Along the way, they had a good time — and that has a positive effect on everyone involved, from the CEO to the customer.

That’s because learning improv is not only fun, but also fosters a more innovative culture, no matter the industry. Improv creates a more open-minded, open-hearted, playful communication style, no matter who’s doing it.

At the core of this art form is simply being extremely present with whomever you are interacting with. In conversation, whether personal or business, most people are thinking about their own response or waiting their turn to talk instead of actively listening. What would be different for you if you learned improv?

Here’s a quick rundown on the first rule of improv, “Yes, and …” followed by areas where it can be applied in the adult industry.

When improv comedians “Yes, and” they are accepting the offer made by their partner and then building on top of it. If I were to say to you, “It’s way too hot to wear all that leather outside today,” your response might be “Yes, and that’s why I refuse to leave the house.” The follow-up “Yes, and” statements would continue moving the conversation forward, introducing new elements in the dynamic while honoring all the previous choices made.

“Yes, and” keeps conversations flowing while preventing the other person from wasting time judging what they heard. It keeps you present, while encouraging playfulness.

The opposite of “Yes, and” is something we hear way too often in our communities. A “No, but” slows down creativity and prevents deeper, more meaningful communication from happening. A “yes” isn’t as bad, but when you don’t add something to a conversation it becomes one-sided and far less productive. Are you still with me? Let’s dig into how this applies to the adult industry.

‘Yes, and’ for Product Development

Imagine a round-table brainstorming session where “Yes, and” is encouraged. What you’ll see is an organic process of building on each other’s ideas replacing stuffy, antiquated, “You share your idea and then I’ll share mine” exchanges.

Improv welcomes innovation through open, playful communication. When you are truly improvising with your colleagues, you are more likely to discover hidden opportunities as opposed to predicting the end goal of a product before it’s even in production. This creates more synergy between departments, from engineering all the way to marketing.

‘Yes, and’ for Retail Employees

Retail store employees who develop more intuitive and creative communication skills will create a more welcoming environment. Deeper connections with customers will likely follow, which results in more sales.

When you learn improv, you learn how to make the other person you’re performing with look good. It creates a unique “back having” relationship where nobody ever feels alone, and you build something together.

This directly translates into the customer experience at adult retail stores. Imagine if employees were trained to “have the backs” of every customer who walked through the door or called on the phone — especially the shy ones who are anxious about making their first purchase.

When you “Yes, and” a customer, they feel heard. The conversation flows, they feel taken care of, and they become consistent buyers. An employee with improv training would be more prepared to pick up on cues from a wary or hesitant customer. Imagine lightening the mood with an icebreaker that mirrors the customer’s tone. Again, this isn’t about being funny; it’s about communicating in a caring, charismatic way.

This applies to ecommerce retailers as well. Improv will help you create more dynamic, engaging copy for online customers. Since many retail websites echo similar messaging, improv could help you stand out.

‘Yes, and’ for B2B

Sales reps often get stonewalled when approaching new accounts who are comfortable ordering elsewhere. Many times, a sales rep will add that potential customer to the “going nowhere” list, only touching base with them every few months.

Improv, however, teaches the skills to adapt to different personality types. Replace your canned reactions with in-the-moment responses and you can breathe life into conversations that were once dead.

Creativity and humor can go a long way in a sales approach, especially when you’re trying to get a prospect to warm up to you. Instead of saying “Okay, thanks anyway” when a customer doesn’t buy, using “Yes, and” can keep the sale alive by showing that you are actively listening and have the client’s best interests at heart. You understand their pain points and they understand your goal is beyond just closing a sale. It’s making a more meaningful connection.

Improv helps us open our minds to more innovative ways of thinking and problem-solving. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never set foot onstage in your life. It doesn’t matter if you don’t consider yourself a “funny” person. Improv is about living in the present moment, actively listening while being the most charismatic communicator you can be.

If you are looking to bring a fresh, inspired attitude to different areas of your business, an improv class for you, or for your whole company, can be a major game changer.

How the Teachings of Comedy Improv Can Bolster Communication Skills by Chris Trew originally appeared in XBIZ

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