The Golden Rule: “Yes, and…” and other lessons from the She Leads & Lightbulb Improv Workshop

4 July 2017

Jessica Abramovic

Jessica is the Communications and Events Coordinator at YWCA Canberra.

On Tuesday 27 June, 20 women came together to learn how to apply improvisation techniques to their workplaces. Improv is about the ability to react, respond, and adapt quickly with confidence.

The workshop, run as a part of the She Leads program in conjunction with local organisation Lightbulb Improv, taught attendees new leadership and management techniques, how to have their voices heard in a male-dominated environment, and provided them with renewed confidence.

Facilitated by Lou Maconachie and Amy Crawford, the workshop was designed to empower women and provide them with confidence to return to work and/or advance their skills to be better leaders.

The workshop included a series of exercises designed to cover the five biggest components of improv:

  • Mindfulness
  • Deep listening
  • Spontaneity
  • Acceptance
  • The Golden Rule: “Yes, and…”

One of the lessons learnt was that mindfulness is about observation, and about learning to constantly perceive your surroundings to make better informed decisions. Through mindfulness, we learned how to teach co-workers some alternative ways of working, based on their strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

For deep listening, we were separated into pairs and asked to create sentences based on the last word of the sentence our partner had said. The purpose of this activity, while hilarious, was to challenge us to not only think on our feet, but to pay close attention to everything our co-workers say.

The next activity, spontaneity, produced hilarious results and was a clear highlight of the night. We were split into groups of four, where one person was asked to say a random word, and the next person needed to reply to that word, without fear or hesitation, with what that word reminded them of.

This resulted in the following conversation: “When I think of bread, I think of happiness.” “When I think of happiness, I think of meditation.” “When I think of meditation, I think of sleepy-time.”

For acceptance, we completed a set of three activities of varying difficulties, where we were asked to recount a day at the beach. The activities combined acceptance and spontaneity, where we were required to react quickly on our feet when our partners threw curveballs into our stories, such as dragons.

The Golden Rule activity was the biggest learning exercise, teaching us how to alter all of our daily interactions to be positive experiences by changing the words we use to respond to ideas or queries made by our co-workers.

We experimented with activities that asked person A to suggest an idea, and person B to respond to that solution in three varying ways. Person B replied to person A’s suggestion with either “No.”, “Yes, but…”, or “Yes, and…”.

Quickly, we learnt that when we accepted the suggestion of a co-worker, even if we disagreed with the suggestion, the suggestion transforms into an innovative and creative solution that involves teamwork, and fosters learning opportunities and collaboration.

“Yes, and..”, creates a safe space for everyone to feel comfortable to contribute to conversations and share ideas and thoughts. Further, it creates momentum and flow in a conversation, meaning that the meeting can be controlled in the direction you want it to go.

The She Leads Workshop – Get Your Voice Heard with Lightbulb Improv, was a fun and informative evening, filled with practical skills that will provide women with the confidence and ability to transform their management techniques to be better leaders, and to reach their potential.

Lou and Amy successfully created a friendly environment that allowed attendees to share their personal workplace experiences, to openly discuss strategies to be better leaders, to combat workplace discrimination, and to be more influential in their workplaces.

Everyone left the evening saying “Yes, and…”, were equipped with practical skills, and were smiling from ear to ear. To see all the great photos from the evening, visit the Flickr album.

Find out about future She Leads Workshops here, and ignite your leadership journey. Also be sure follow She Leads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more on women’s leadership.

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