When I interviewed for my current job, for whatever reason, I felt it necessary to let my would-be manager know that I was taking improv classes. I’m not sure why I divulged such information. I knew well that it could lead her to think I wouldn’t have enough time to perform the often 24/7 duties of a social media manager. But, she asked about me and improv has been a big part of my life for the last several months so I figured, it couldn’t hurt, right? I was totally right.
I'm not saying that should you mention improv in your next job interview that it will go this well, but after I brought it up, my now boss told me that while working for her previous company, they would actually reimburse employees for doing such things and working toward goals that would, overall, better themselves. I, unfortunately, don’t get reimbursed (but I do intern, for the incredible experience and so I don’t have to worry about things such as reimbursement) but the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize how improv HAS actually made me better at my job.
Regardless of what you do to put food on your table, I’m pretty sure improv, and what you learn while doing it, can be applied. I’m the type of person that most often needs to take information in, digest that information, and then I can come back to you with a plan. I’m not typically someone who speaks up in meetings, I don’t usually just spitball my ideas to the group—or at least, I wasn’t and I didn’t. I’ve since changed that and it’s mostly due to improv and the confidence that I’ve gained in myself since day one of Level 1.
There are no bad ideas in improv, and really, there are no bad ideas when you’re brainstorming for that next project at the office, or, wherever it is that you work. Sharing your ideas and taking a risk or two show the others involved that you care, that you’re taking initiative, and that you’re thinking.
Now, if you’re just quiet in meetings because you aren’t paying attention (also, me, most of the time) then neither improv nor I can help you speak up. Just look up from your computer occasionally, nod, say, “Yeah!” enthusiastically in agreement if that’s what everyone else is doing, and carry on.
I’ve mentioned previously that improv helps you to become a better listener and a better friend (and person, really) and as such, I think improv can also help you improve your interactions with your coworkers. Sure, once you tell them that you do improv, they’ll likely ask you to tell them a joke, expect you to be funny all the time, or just ask you multiple times, “Is that like, Saturday Night Live?” but, by simply being more open to them, their ideas and maybe even saying yes to a couple of them, your workplace will be a lot more tolerable.
Even though, yes, Sonya, I’m fine, please stop asking. I know you really don’t care how my weekend was and you’re just making small talk. I can’t deal with it right now. Every time you walk over to my desk I know you’re going to ask me to do something that I don’t want to do for a client that I absolutely hate. Please, just send me an email. Also, we really didn’t need an entire meeting for that.
Megan Radke is currently a Level 4 student at DCH. She is a copywriter and social media manager by day and an essayist and mediocre musician by night. She is a constant consumer of books, music, film, and all things comedy. She is also great at racking up copious amounts of credit card debt with spur-of-the-moment travel.