One Word Suggestion: Insults
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.
This week’s word, “insults” was suggested by Roberto and you know what? Insults is a stupid word and Roberto must be a total moron!
I’m kidding, (Sorry Roberto, you’re not a moron) but I am surprised by this suggestion because as far as I’m concerned, with the exception of comedy roasts, which are done from a place of love and respect, there’s no need for insults in improv, or anywhere else.
The truth is, putting other people down will not make you look better. In fact, putting other people down only makes you look worse.
Now I might be super biased because when I was a kid I received more than my fair share of insults. This was because I had what some considered to be a girl’s name, and because my parents moved around a lot and I was always the new kid at school.
Two things helped me get through it. One – the girls liked me. And, two – humour
These days I love a good burn as much as the next guy – especially when I’m at the pub with my mates. But there’s no place for insults in business, or on stage. Or in the audience, I’m talking to you hecklers!
So if you find yourself being insulted by someone, my advice is to cut that person out of your life (or edit the scene) and move on.
Some improv teachers I’ve interviewed say insults are OK on stage, as long as they’re part of a character’s world view. And I do appreciate where they’re coming from.
However, at LMA we teach our students to always strive to make their teammates look good – on stage and at work – because when they make their teammates look good, they look good. And we’ve found insults don’t typically play a role in that.
One thing I will say is that improv teaches you how to think fast on your feet, so with training, you’ll always be quick with a comeback. And you’ll be less likely to walk away thinking about what you should have said. You’ll have said it! But usually, that’s a lose/lose situation no matter how good a retort you come up with.
The real secret is to never accept an insult in the first place.
There’s a story about Buddha, who is well known for his ability to respond to evil with good, and in the story he is being repeatedly insulted by some guy, and finally Buddha turns around and says, “If someone gives you a gift and you don’t accept it, who has the gift?”
Or as I put it, “I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me, and sticks to you.”
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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