A Ropes Course for the Mind: Building Teams and Communication One Improv Game at a Time

A Ropes Course for the Mind Building Teams and Communication One Improv Game at a Time

Why do we improvise?

Improvisation theatre games are great resources as they require participants to react to the experience as it unfolds. This spontaneous moment of participation and spontaneity can spark discovery, creativity, laughter, and change in behavior. Improv is fun, frightening, challenging, tremendously enjoyable, and paradoxical. I have found that very few people are opposed to the idea of improv.

Improvisational theatre participants are able to use the same skills that all other teams have. These skills include listening, agreement, accepting what is given, partnering with others, helping them succeed, letting down the need for personal recognition, trust, and spontaneity, believing that one can do it all, and not having to worry about the outcome.

Participants can engage in new activities, find new ways to invite others, learn new things, and gain a new understanding of their own relationships and self. Players learn how to improve their skills through improv. Trust is increased when others trust you; creativity skills are honed by not having a predetermined agenda and being able to act on others’ visions; communication skills can be sharpened by listening without interrupting, acknowledging the opinions of others, and speaking from an emotional place.

Improv allows players to create reality by using their individual actions and genuine emotions. They also share a shared vision with other players. Improv players learn to trust their intuition and to let their spontaneity flow freely without self-censorship.

The learning happens in the review, debriefing, and discussion sections of improv. Behavior change is achieved through the participants’ self-awareness and the ability to make changes in the ways they have always done it. Participants also recognize their responsibility for how things turn out.

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Risk factors

There is no way to predict how an improv game will turn out. This is the danger of using these games. These games are unpredictable, and we cannot plan for them. We can only be open to uncertainty and trust in our ability to take advantage of what comes up. We must experience trust, vulnerability, and spontaneity. It’s a good idea to do so. What are the benefits to us? There are safer ways to communicate your point.

Working without a net is not easy. It’s easier to be foolish, incompetent, or crazier than the others. Your words and ideas will be more potent if you are able to see the games from the same emotional perspective as your participants. You have established rapport. Now you’re in a position to help clients overcome common obstacles to success: self-doubt, fear of being foolish, overthinking, and resisting change. Improv is used by one facilitator because it “puts people in the right mindset to achieve breakthroughs of thought.” Although improv games can be used as tools, their actual value is in the benefits they provide to the people who use them: the ability for them to manage spontaneity while still maintaining control.

Play with your friends

These games can be compelling, but I advise you not to use them in your workplace until you have played them as much as you can outside of facilitation sessions. Play the games with family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Enjoy the surprises that each game offers. Be open to all the possibilities that may arise. Don’t worry about knowing the outcome ahead of time. Respect the discomfort you feel. Find the discomforting place. This will help you become more confident and make improv easier to learn. You never know what the outcome will be. It is essential to be comfortable with the process and not worry about the product. There are many magical aspects to improve. My colleague realized that improv wasn’t about working without a net. It’s about creating a network of creativity and confidence.

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You see who they really are.

Improv helps people to understand their processes and interactions. The way someone behaves in improv games can give you an idea of how they will act in stressful situations. Your thinking can also be a sign of your beliefs in these situations. We ask fundamental questions to help players understand what is happening and how their thinking influences the outcome. Improv allows us to see how one behavior or thought pattern leads towards a particular result. It’s like looking at the inner workings of your mind.

Players will show emotion during the game. Examples include saying “oh no”, stepping back from an action, or apologizing. This emotion can be used to stop the action and ask basic questions such as “Why did you do that?” Or “What did you think when that happened?” These are what I refer to as “instructional moments.”

Instructional moments are when we can investigate WHY a game doesn’t work or what QUALITIES exist. My goal is to ensure that every participant has a positive experience by keeping them playing the game. This gives everyone (audience included) a complete, interactive encounter that illuminates the workings and dynamics of the interactions. It’s my experience that it’s most efficient to allow players to continue playing until they have had a successful venture. This allows them and the audience to experience transformative change.

Eureka! It’s here!

The following questions can be used for debriefing almost any improv game. Why/Why not? “How did you feel when it worked?” What were the differences between the success stories and those that failed? What were the stages you went through to reach this experience? “How did your BELIEF (what you thought) influence the outcome (the OUTCOME? ” “Where can we make a difference in this game?”

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Improv is not about being fast, funny, or acting without rules, contrary to popular belief. It is fundamentally a manifestation of paradox. It is essentially the manifestation of a contradiction.

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