Years ago, I studied improvisational theater. I started a couple of improv groups, I performed, I taught improv.
It’s made me a better mediator. Being skilled in improvisation helps me seamlessly revise my orientation talk at the start of sessions to best serve my clients, helps me transition between phases of mediation effortlessly and naturally, helps me adapt to different communication styles, helps me align my work with my clients’ goals, and helps me be more flexible and adaptable in finding the best way to help my clients towards resolution.
Plus which, improv is just plain fun! When I taught it in the D.C. area, about half of my students were programmers or otherwise in IT. They loved it! It was a refreshing change from their day job, and they felt happier and less stressed.
Improv is for anyone. It can help anyone communicate better: in a high-stakes mediation or negotiation, a CIO presenting an initiative to the CEO, the director of a non-profit talking to a donor, speakers and presenters taking questions and having to think on their feet.
You don’t have to be an actor, you don’t have to be good at telling jokes. All you have to do is enjoy your instinct, follow your impulses, listen, and be in the moment.
And you get to wear wacky socks, like Michael Wheeler in the video.