One Word Suggestion: Assholes.
Welcome to One Word Suggestion.
Most people think improv is just for comedy or jazz music. But, really, it’s a tool for life. For each article in this series I use a single word, suggested by you, as a leaping off point to explore how having an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level, both personally and professionally, whether you have a career on or off the stage.
At first I was going to write this suggestion off as inappropriate and off-topic, but the reality is all of us probably know or work with at least one person who is, in fact, an asshole, and I got to thinking, one of the things that makes an asshole an asshole is the need to always be right.
In their excellent book, Yes, and,” Tom Yorton and Kelly Leonard from Second City Works write “The need to be right among individuals, institutions, and organizations is one of the biggest barriers to creativity and innovation.”
If you know someone who always needs to be right, I’m guessing you hate dealing with them.
Because they’re difficult. Because they don’t listen. Because they behave like they’re the smartest person in the room, or the world’s best subject matter expert, even when they can’t possibly be.
Because they’re an asshole.
The thing is most assholes don’t even realize they’re the problem. As Raylan Given said in the TV series, “Justified,” “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.”
And assholes usually behave the way they do because they’re insecure, have some deep-rooted conflict within themselves, or simply lack solid social skills.
And it’s a problem because it doesn’t matter how smart or “right” you are, if you’re not “people smart” you’ll never go far in life.
In public speaking guru Michael Port’s “Book Yourself Solid” he writes:
“Understanding the concepts people use to make sense of their social relations can help you improve your social awareness, presence, authenticity, clarity, and empathy.
Bottom line: you’ll be more attuned to the needs and desires of others, which will make you more relevant and influential.”
And less of an asshole
I had a former colleague who used to go around all the time telling anyone who would listen that people are stupid. He proved this to himself by exaggerating and overselling his own talents and abilities, while knocking down others, and always being right. Even when he wasn’t.
It’s true there are people out there who are “educationally deprived,” but I maintain that even though we may not all be Einstein, we are all doing our best.
People aren’t stupid, they’ve just had different life experiences.
And once we get comfortable with that – and with ourselves, life gets a whole lot easier.
So my suggestion is, if you can, avoid them, if you can’t, learn to deal with them. Because the reality is even assholes have something to say, so it’s on you to be like Buddha and practice patience, presence, authenticity, clarity, and empathy.
And of course I’m going to say that improv can teach you all of those things, and it will.
The soft skills we teach in our Level 1 classes and corporate training workshops will absolutely help you learn to deal with assholes.
And stop you from being one.
If you want to suggest a word for next week, or add your perspective, drop me a note in the comments or in a review. I’m making one of these every week, for a year, so definitely subscribe, like, share, and all that jazz.
Or better yet, listen to the podcast.
And in the meantime, if you’re interested in improv for personal growth, professional achievement, or just for fun, my suggestion is to get yourself into an improv class or book a corporate training workshop for your team.
You can learn all about PowerProv’s programs at powerprov.com.au
About One Word Suggestion
The One Word Suggestion series is your personal toolbox full of ways to help you use the power of improvisation to craft a more mindful and meaningful existence. Available as articles, a podcast, and soon, a book filled with powerful exercises for teams.
The One Word Suggestion Podcast with Eran Thomson
In each 3-minute episode, Eran uses a single word, suggested by listeners, as a leaping off point to explore how developing an improvisational mindset will help you perform at a higher level personally and professionally.
Whether you aspire to be better on stage or on the job, this quick hit of improv inspiration is sure to bring you some insights, perspective, and joy.
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