The Energizer

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Book Excerpt: Improvise to Maximize

by Eileen McDargh, Chief Energy Officer - Monday, September 17, 2018
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Great conversations result when there's an easy give and take, a go-with-the-flow sensation, along with an acute sense that you are being heard at a deeper level than the normal chitchat. In this instance, good conversations resemble improvisational theater.

Improv actually depends upon all the actors paying close attention to each other and then working with whatever is presented to them. Let me repeat that again: pay attention and work with whatever is presented.

Select someone you'd like to (or need to) talk to. Open up the conversation by stating either why you've initiated the conversation or by asking an open-ended question. Then, practice these techniques:

  • Encourage talking by saying, "Yes...tell me more." This means that no matter what is stated, don't change the subject, get defensive, fail to listen, or ignore the response. You have the opportunity to create new and positive results by building upon whatever is said.
  • Don't plan your response while the other person is speaking.
  • Seek what is provocative, interesting, or new in what you are hearing. There's a gift somewhere. Trust me. Ask the other person to expand on something that intrigues you--even if it bothers you.
  • Work with what is given. In the 2004 presidential debates, rarely did either candidate "work with" what the other said. Instead, each hauled out a party line that left the viewer less than excited about either candidate. A smart leader can take a question in a meeting--even a question that sounds antagonistic--and work with it. Example: One manager challenged another in a meeting by saying, "Your people need to be more visible to senior management!" The response was something like this: "That's interesting. What does visible look like to you?" The ensuing conversation was both instructive and powerful, leaving the "challenger" looking petty and clueless.

© 2018 by Eileen McDargh, CSP, CPAE.

This excerpt is from Talk Ain’t Cheap… It’s Priceless. If you’d like your own copy or one for a friend or colleague visit our website here. If you purchase 250 books Eileen will conduct a free 30-minute webinar for your audience! To take advantage of this offer please call our office at 949-496-8640.


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Eileen McDargh Keynote Speaker Blog Author

About Eileen!

Since beginning her consulting and training practice in 1980, Eileen has become noted for her ability to speak the truth with clarity, wisdom, humor and compassion. Long-standing clients and repeat engagements attest to her commitment to make a difference in minds, hearts and spirits of organizations and individuals. She draws upon practical business know-how, life's experiences and years of consulting to major national and international organizations that have ranged from global pharmaceuticals to the US Armed Forces, from health care associations to religious institutions. Executive Excellence magazine selected her as one of the top 100 thought leaders in leadership and among the top ten consultant providers of leadership development.

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