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Improvise your way to better negotiation and leadership skills: An interview with Karen Hough

— For promoting creativity within work teams, two things spring to mind. One of them is creating awareness about boundaries. If people can get on board with why boundaries are in place and understand that they are there for a good reason, then you can create a certain spirit about them that promotes creativity. The second thing is to create proper expectations about process. For example, if leaders have a decision to make, they can say to their team: “We don’t want to do this in the bubble, because you guys have all the great ideas. So let’s do some brainstorming together. Then when we have to go off and make that decision alone, we’re going to feel so much stronger and able to do that.” It changes the way people feel about their part on the team.

LC: Whether it's leading a meeting, delivering a presentation or negotiating a contract, people may think these channels are not ideally suited for improvisational techniques. Can you explain why they’re wrong?

KH: This is one of my favorite misunderstandings about improv. People think improv is winging it. What people don’t know is that improvising performers rehearse twice as much as any other form of performance. So it’s winging it at a different level. There are hours upon hours of background and preparation work that go into it. On the business level, this is true as well. The best way to engage your audience is to know your material, be flexible and read them. You need to be able to adapt.

LC: In starting your business, what are some of the biggest challenges you faced?

KH: Credibility would be number one. I was going into corporations and telling them my training based in improvisation would be the most effective thing they ever spent money on. That was a huge hurdle to get over.

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