One Word Suggestion: Watching.
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.
I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite things to do is people watching,
Actually, I’m gonna guess that I do know about you and that you love people watching too. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a National pastime – no matter where you live.
Because we all do it. On the bus, the train, in line to get coffee, while we’re sitting at a cafe drinking coffee… on our way home from getting coffee.
We can’t help it. It’s in our DNA. At a basic level watching other people is how we learn, about relationships, about fashion, about culture, about what’s funny, and about all the dumb things other people do, say or wear that we would never do, say, or wear.
Our ability to observe people and situations and translate those observations into useful opportunities for personal growth and development is wonderful.
I was thinking about this during a recent yoga class. Everyone in the room was doing the exact same thing with their bodies or trying to. And even though the teacher was giving us verbal instructions from the front of the room, almost everyone was gauging their progress and checking to see if they were doing the asana correctly, by watching the people next to them.
I call this type of observation “listening visually.”
At LMA we spend a good chunk of time teaching people to listen visually or become what we call “active listeners.” This means learning to use your mouth less, and your ears and eyes more. And in particular, to watch for what isn’t being said.
Learning to read body language may be slightly helpful in a yoga class, but it’s crucial in almost every situation in life. In Amy Cuddy’s excellent TED Talk she speaks about “non-verbals” and how what we see or watch – in ourselves and in others can have a dramatic impact on our lives if we learn to pay attention in those moments.
Cathy Salit calls those moments “offers,” and in her excellent Inc. Magazine article she writes, “in every conversation, you’re presented with all kinds of offers. Even if the opposite appears to be the case. A colleague ignoring your question is an offer. Your team getting the research that you asked for done early is an offer. A client saying he’s not interested in whatever you have to sell is an offer. A laugh at your joke is an offer. Your boss not looking up at you when you come into her office is an offer. All of this — the good, the bad, and the to-be-determined — they’re all offers that you can create with, if you hear them.”
Learning to listen visually and watch for unspoken offers or opportunities can be a game-changer. And if you want to get better at seeing them, an improv class or workshop is a great place to start.
And in the meantime, get some dark sunglasses, and don’t be creepy.
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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