Can an improv class help “win friends and influence people”

The theater was filled with 150 employees from a call center. Each one of them elated to be anywhere but work. Except one. He didn’t even want to be there. Maybe he was having a bad day, or maybe he was that kinda guy.

The young man (let’s call him Jason) was in his late 20’s. He entered the room and immediately took his seat in the last row of the theater. No one approached him and he didn’t talk with anyone. It wasn’t until we were about to start did anyone actually go near him to communicate. It was another young man, about his same age and attitude. He sat 3 chairs away and occasionally they made quiet comments to each other in the 90 minutes we were together. Outside of that there wasn’t much more.

“If we are so contemptibly selfish that we can’t radiate a little happiness and pass on a bit of honest appreciation without trying to get something out of the other person in return – if our souls are no bigger than sour crab apples, we shall meet with the failure we so richly deserve.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

You know that awkward moment when a presenter asks for a volunteer to come forward and everyone immediately gets quiet, avoids eye contact and offer prayers of “Please, don’t pick me!”? Well… that happened.

And then another “usual” thing occurred. It happens in nearly every presentation I do. The team collectively knew who their champion was. Almost simultaneously, the majority of the team shouted and pointed: “NANDO!“.

Nando is a thirty-something employee in the same department and sat in the 4th row. Nando didn’t stand out like Jason did. In fact, I didn’t know who Nando was, until the group voluntold him.

The team needed someone to “represent” them, someone willing to take that risk, someone who would give 100% to the unknown task and most likely succeed. And they ALL knew who that was.

Nando.

He smiled, laughed nervously, and reluctantly made his way to the stage.

Nando is a “Charismatic Connector” – and he may not even know it. But others do. They weren’t being mean or throwing him under the bus. In fact, it was an honor for them to have Nando. Others recognize that there’s something about him that puts him at the top of their list. They view him as someone who has that “it-factor”. The kinda guy you want to work with.

“We are interested in others when they are interested in us.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People

Being a “Charismatic Connector” is more than just being outgoing. In fact, the key word is “Connector”. It’s not about you – it’s about them. Connect with others, be interested in them and what they have to say, contribute or share. A good listener and someone who wants to communicate with others. Even if just a smile and hello while passing in the hall.

“To be interesting, be interested.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Taking an improv class, either with JesterZ or any other improv theater, will absolutely push you to take risks, say yes, do more, commit more, listen better and a plethora of other life and stage skills…  but MOSTLY, an improv class will (or should) teach you to BE MORE INTERESTED IN YOUR PARTNER.  We have a motto of making your partner look good.  Give those in whom you associate with, your utmost attention AND give life to their ideas.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

There’s a very clear difference between Jason and Nando. I’m sure that there’s value to Jason and the knowledge or skill that he brings to the company. But if I were in charge of putting together a team of individuals that I’m confident will accomplish the task, rally the team to get it done, and inspire the motivation it takes to go above and beyond, I would hire 149 other Nandos.

“about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering—to personality and the ability to lead people.”
― Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People

Be of value to your employer, the community, your friends and your family.

Be a “Charismatic Connector” to win friends and influence people.

Be Nando.

For more information on classes at JesterZ improv theater, click HERE

NEXT CLASS BEGINS:  THURSDAY 6/22

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