When the tsunami hit, she observed those people react in ways that had her recoiling from those initial judgments.
“It made me realize that I have that capacity to think us and them and you versus me,” she says, noting that the frenetic younger guys took charge of a rescue, while some older Thai women has collected fish from the sea so people had food to eat that night. “In that moment, what I saw was a collective group of people working to get through something very traumatic.”
One of the driving forces of that shift, according to Safran, was the need to improvise. Improvisation has been Safran’s calling ever since. Her Improv Consultants firm uses play to ignite teams, strengthen leaders, and spark lasting collaboration, communication & creativity. On Sept. 6, Safran led an inspired, engaging interactive workshop on using the tenets of improvisation to bridge the generational divide. The event, part of "The Essentials" series hosted by the Mill Valley, San Rafael, Corte Madera and Tiburon Chambers of Commerce, was held at the Town Center Corte Madera.
In doing so, she relied on the tenets of improvisation. With younger people constantly entering the workforce and older people working well into their 60s and 70s, Safran says, finding ways to help those disparate demographics work well with one another is a critical component to a successful workplace.
But rather than a lecture and feverish note-taking from attendees, Safran led the group in a series of improv exercises that pushed all the right buttons. They included having partners rapidly count off back and forth, swapping in claps and snaps as they did so; brainstorming commonalities with partners; and using creative word association to pass childhood memories around a group.
Those exercises sought to drive home the power of some of the tenets of improvisation, including:
- Say yes and add positively to the situation – Fully accept ideas, even if you don’t like them, and seek to add positively to them.
- Stay present and evaluate later – Refraining from planning allows for even more options and choices to make themselves known.
- Make your partner look brilliant – Eliminate defensiveness.
- Look for connection – Finding commonalities with others supports the building of healthy relationships.
- Find the joy in failure – Be willing to make mistakes and see those mistakes not so much as a failure as a willingness to be courageous. “Mistakes are considered a gift in improv,” Safran says.
Attendees walked away with ideas and strategies to bridge the generational divide in creative, effective ways that they could put into practice with ease.
The 411: MORE INFO on Lisa Safran and Improv Consultants. Do you have a topic you’d like the Chambers to cover in an upcoming The Essentials event? Let us know.