Play at Work

If everyone had to write down a list of words that described their job, I don’t think “fun” would be at the top of many lists. Work is tough. Work is work. A job is full of challenges and responsibilities and most people compartmentalize fun to the hours after five o’clock.

Here’s the trick: your job SHOULD BE fun. But at some point, when you applied, or accepted an offer, something about this job must have been worthwhile for you to commit your time for it.

You may have lost sight of the “fun” behind the crushing weight of tasks, deadlines, cranky co-workers or clients.

I would never suggest you trivialize your job, or force yourself to treat issues that matter like they don’t. A flippant attitude isn’t the answer. But you can open yourself up to “playing” at work.

When we talk about improvisors performing, we refer to it as “playing.” On stage, you must open yourself up to the endless possibilities of what can happen from scene-to-scene or show-to-show. There is a sense of discovery and exploration.

That opportunity for you to flex creative muscles exists off stage too. By changing the way you approach work issues you can help make yourself love what you do.

“When we bring a sense of play into our work environment it opens up new pathways to solutions and allows for innovation,” according to Kristen Schier, university professor and one of PHIT Comedy’s corporate workshop facilitators. “Play exchanges convention and rigidity for novelty and flexibility. Play fosters creativity and adaptation all while inviting new possibilities… and let us not forget joy!

Our workshops can help people retrain how they think about work. We encourage you to look at your job not as an obligation you have to fulfill, but as a role for you to star in.

Here are a few ways you might be preventing yourself from having fun at work:

  1. You’re stuck in a creative rut: if you’ve become a slave to an implied system of doing your job, you’re missing out on new opportunities to approach work.
  2. You’re assuming “no”s – Sometimes our inclination to shoot down our own ideas prevents us from exploring opportunities we never realize.
  3. You’re focusing on the wrong things – If the amount you dread doing something is proportional to how long you put off doing it, you’re sustaining the worry. Spend your time focusing on the more engaging parts of your job.

To help you or your team rediscover fun at work, contact PHIT Comedy about our corporate workshops using applied improvisation today.

5 Things That Happen When You Say “Yes”

NO is a powerful word in business. It usually marks the end of a conversation, idea, or pitch, and leaves both parties with little direction.

Improv comedy relies on agreement. We teach our performers that saying “Yes and…” rather than “No” allows them to explore an idea rather than put up a road block. Agreement gives all parties a chance to move forward and better reach their destination collaboratively.

That doesn’t mean mindlessly agreeing to every idea that comes across your desk. Here are 5 key things that occur after you say “Yes”:

  1. You allow the other person to further explain – Nothing shuts down innovation like the word “No.” Sometimes a suggestion will come to you that doesn’t jive with personal feelings. That doesn’t mean the idea is wrong. An immediate and qualified yes to a suggestion opens a dialog, and allows both you and the person who suggested it an opportunity to find where the disconnect lives.
  2. You give yourself the gift of perspective – Imagine what your life would be like if someone on your team came and gave you three new great ideas every day. That maybe sounds impossible, but it is even less likely if you are someone who shoots ideas down before turning them over.
  3. The other person views you as a helper – I want you to think of the person on your team who you are most likely to bring an idea to. Now I want you to think of the qualities of that person that cause you to enjoy working with them. Have they gone with your ideas before? Have they worked on problems with you, rather than shut you down at the jump? Are they a “collaborator”?
  4. You open a dialog to convey your feelings – No is an ending to conversation. No is the last part of the dialog. Even though I’m promoting the idea of agreement, I want to stress – sometimes “No” is the right answer. However, by accepting the suggestion and allowing conversation to continue, you are giving yourself an opportunity to explore the idea and convey your opinions. Even if the idea is the worst idea ever, you now have an opportunity to explain why so your teammate understands.
  5. You allow yourself to learn – Don’t underestimate the power of your team. An attitude of Yes will cause you to have more meaningful conversations about what matters most to you and your coworker. The information that follows in that conversation is more important than it seems.

PHIT Corporate has been using the concept of saying “Yes” as a core part of our applied improvisation teaching for over a decade and we’ve seen first-hand the results this shift in thinking can have for teams – in the way they communicate, the way they brainstorm, and the way they work together. Almost every workshop we run spends at least a little time talking about “Yes, and…” because it is a foundation of everything else we do.

“Agreement is about getting on the same page as the idea: Where did it come from and what problem is trying to address? Approaching from that angle often leads to the most productive conversation,” says PHIT Corporate Facilitator David Donnella. “The important thing is to agree to the parameters that created the idea, and to try and understand the context. Without accepting that we’ve reached this point, we can never really explore what the moment itself means to us and we certainly can’t move forward.”

To see how David and the other facilitators can help your team, department, or entire office harness the power of yes to change the way you work, reach out to us and let’s collaborate together on a workshop!