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4 Ways Improv Makes You Better at Your Job

A little over a year ago, I wanted to quit my job. My boss was too demanding (he threw a fit when a shirt he ordered was maroon instead of red), my salary was too low (for the amount of work I had to do), and my employer was too difficult to work with (this was when I worked at PETA).

Maybe I would’ve stuck it out if I’d been a little more Type A, or if I were actually a radical animal activist—but alas, I was neither. So I wanted to quit. But then I found improv, which made me better at my job and made me actually want to stay and work through it all. So I did. For a while.

The moral of my story is that taking an improv class can re-energize you at work and boost your career, especially if you work in a demanding administrative role like I did. So if you’re in a rut at work and you feel like you’re plateauing, consider these four benefits of taking an improv class:

1. Your Interactions with People Will Improve

you're my nemesis

One of the first things you learn in improv is to “yes and” everything you hear. This means that even if your scene partner just told you that you’re an octopus with a three bedroom apartment (which has happened), then you have to agree that you’re an octopus with a three bedroom apartment and continue on with the scene.

Inevitably, if you’re listening to everyone at work and affirming their thoughts, no matter how crazy, then you’re more likely to be a positive influence around the office. Even the most demanding boss may see his spirits lift if you maintain a constant air of positivity around him. A happy boss usually makes for a more lenient, laid-back boss.

2. You’ll Be More Flexible

cat flexible

Being organized and punctual is a huge part of being an office assistant, but it can be hard to stay on top of things when there’s a flurry of new assignments rushing in. A huge part of improv is learning how to think quickly and how to switch gears at the drop of a hat, which makes it easier for you to deal with curve balls in real life. For example, you might be about to start a scene as a chef, but if your partner says you’re a dinosaur, then you’re a dinosaur. After enough of these sudden, drastic transitions, you’ll be an expert at task switching in no time.

3. You’ll Be More Creative

not another teen movie

This one’s a no-brainer. Whether you consider yourself funny or not, improv is proven to bring out your inner creative genius. After weeks of being forced to create stories and characters out of thin air, you’ll find yourself using your imagination more and more often in real life. You’ll start to notice simple, elegant solutions to everyday problems, and you’ll suddenly have way more clever suggestions for your boss. (But wait for the right time to bring them up, obvi. You’ll know when it is.)

4. You’ll Be a Better Team Player

cute animal teamwork

Improv classes force you to instantly bond with a bunch of people you don’t know that well and somehow tell a bunch of funny, engaging, semi-realistic stories using only one word audience suggestions and your combined brains. This makes you better at noticing people’s strengths and weaknesses, and at picking up on when it’s the right time to jump in on an interaction or just leave it be. These skills easily translate to the office, as you might find yourself regularly teaming up with new people to fulfill your boss’s demands. You’ll be able to get team projects done a lot more quickly, and your boss will thank you for it.

Whether you’re funny or not, improv is bound to help you in many, many ways. Definitely consider taking a class at your local comedy theater or bringing an improv group to your office to run an improv-based team building workshop. Don’t be afraid to be terrible at it, and just remember—have fun and enjoy making a bunch of new friends!

Intrigued by improv? Comment below!

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  1. Call it improv, call it an ability to roll with the punches, it works. How I wish we could ru n a class like that here, speaking from a theatre and improv buff, but I would need to break through that wall of resistance I can see going up immediately. One question, though–octopus with 3 bedroom apartment…is it available, or is octo able to make rent because he can seriously multi-task?

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