Listen … Say yes … and Commit

Then a miracle occurred

I have a client and we have been working together for years, pretty well on the whole but there was always a tension when we disagreed or saw things differently. He had clear ideas about what he wanted and I always thought I knew best. It was a bit like the situation in my previous article Viewing each other as Aliens where I saw things one way and he saw them another and I just couldn’t see why he didn’t agree.

We continued to work with each other but I’m sure he was getting increasingly frustrated with me and was starting to lose patience. After all he was paying for my services to help him achieve his goals and I was putting the brakes on the whole time.

Mid-year review time on the various assignments I was doing for him, we had a whole day planned together and I was feeling tense and concerned we were not seeing eye to eye even before going into the meeting. Was it time to end our professional relationship?

And then a miracle occurred.

The miracle

By chance, the evening before the meeting I had a video call with a wonderful mentor of mine, Rachel Blackman. Rachel is a dance, movement and performance professional with experience in improvisation and she taught me the 3 golden rules of improv;

  1. Listen
  2. Say yes
  3. … and commit

If you are going to perform brilliantly in the improvisation world with others you have to fully accept whatever comes up. No throwing things back at the other, no rejection; simple acceptance and building on their idea and they commit to the same with you.

I’d been saying no

It hit me that I’d been a terrible improv partner to my client. He had dreams, ideas and plans and all the time I’d thought I knew best and had been saying no. Even though I tried to be reasonable and nice, I was not really listening, was saying no and I was not committed to his vision for his business.

My conversation with Rachel was profound and she had no idea I was wrestling with this tension. I went into our mid-year with a totally different mind-set.

Listen … say yes … and commit.

I felt like I’d let something go, a huge weight or tension was gone and the effect was immediate. He seemed to sense my shift in perspective, he must have felt less threatened,  more accepted. By the end of the day we were co-creating new solutions and ideas to his challenges and dreams and we were both enthusiastic and committed to a new chapter in his business growth.

I can honestly say since then we have been collaborating as if we were business partners not client and supplier, we have been generative in our conversations, he has accepted my, sometimes off the wall, suggestions and I can totally see the value in his ways of working.

At red10 we endeavour to integrate into our methods the very best from all walks of life; business, theatre & the arts, sport or science. If you want to talk to us about your Team Effectiveness or 9 Dimension Coaching we promise to listen … say yes … and commit to you. 

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