July 17th, 2024

Legal Briefs: Navigating change through improvisation

By Medicine Hat News on July 15, 2017.

Communicating effectively is important. We communicate to express ideas, arrive at truth, persuade others, and establish trust. To communicate effectively one must be mindful, alert, open, and responsive.

Communication breakdowns inevitably lead to conflict; sometimes even legal conflict. Solving these kinds of conflicts quickly and effectively is critical for saving our relationships, but many of us are out of practice. It is important to practise recognizing where you are at any given moment, choosing new approaches when needed, collaborating with others, taking risks, and learning from failure.

This may surprise you, but it turns out that many of the skills that help make people laugh are transferable to problem solving. Good comedy improvisers are attuned to their ensemble. They are adaptive, flexible, creative, and responsive. Second City Works, the business-to-business arm of the iconic comedy theatre, has researched what makes good comedy improvisation and has some advice you can use to become a good improviser and communicator:

(1) “Yes, andÉ”

— Improvisation is rooted in the notion of saying “yes” to an idea and then building upon it. Practise saying “yes, andÉ” to create a culture that encourages inventiveness, quicker problem solving, and engaged collaborators.

(2) Listening

— Spend more time listening than speaking. Don’t jump to conclusions. Gather facts and refrain from hunch-making until you have the complete picture.

(3) “Ensemble” Thinking

— Think of your group as an ensemble; an entity that is only true to itself when all of its members are performing as one.

(4) Co-creation

— Your ventures, deals, and agreements are collaborative endeavours. Work together to maintain an open dialogue and stop from being too possessive of co-created ideas.

(5) Authenticity

— If something isn’t working, say so, and allow yourself to take off in another direction. Try to allow people to be authentic. Allow them to vent frustration and tell the truth about what is and isn’t working. Doing so will help your managers and leaders grow and adapt to changing circumstances.

(6) Failure

— Embrace failure as a learning opportunity. Sometimes an idea won’t be obviously bad until it fails, so accept failure as a natural part of your process and try to free your fellow collaborators from the fear of failure. Don’t get comfortable failing, but when it happens use it to drive innovation.

(7) Follow the Follower

— This idea flies in the face of hierarchy and it is a hard lesson to learn. Everyone must take a turn following and leading. Everyone can gain something by listening, and offer something by speaking. Practise getting better at both.

Second City Works is teaching these strategies to businesses, law firms, and individuals with the goal of reducing conflict. These strategies work and we apply them in our own practice. Try implementing them to prevent a conflict, and a trip to your lawyer. Remember: communicating effectively helps avoid problems before they happen and solve them when they do.

Kenneth Taylor joined Pritchard & Co. as a student-at-law in 2017.Having grown up in Medicine Hat, Ken is excited to start his practice in our community. Seeking legal advice doesn’t need to be stressful. Thoughtful and adaptive approaches lead to successful outcomes and Ken is excited to innovate, create and collaborate with the Pritchard & Co. LLP team to attain them.

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