Episode #136 – Improving Workplace Relationships through Improv

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In this podcast episode we interview Dan O’Connor and Jeffrey Katzman, Co- Authors of the book, Ensemble, Using the Power of Improv & Play to Forge Connections in a Lonely World. Today’s podcast topic discusses the various aspects of applied improvisation and its role in work, relationships, and mental health. They highlight the importance of active listening and how improvisation can help people become more present in their interactions. They note that improv can help individuals see each other as full human beings rather than just the roles they play in the workplace as we Team Anywhere

What is Applied Improv?

Dan O’Connor and Jeffrey Katzman explain what applied improvisation is and how it can be used in various aspects of life, such as work, relationships, and mental health. They discuss the importance of active listening and how improvisation can help people get out of their own way and become more present in their interactions. Katzman also highlights the value of warm-up games and playfulness in improving communication and building relationships in the workplace. They note that improvisation can help individuals see each other as full human beings rather than just the roles they play in the workplace.

Role Play vs. Improv

When it comes to the difference between role play and improv, they note that it’s not much different as they are essentially the same thing, but people may get nervous about the performance aspect of improvisation. In corporate settings, warm-up games and playfulness are often used to create a sense of spirit and bring people together. Through improv, organizations can start to see each other more as human beings rather than just fixed roles.

Improv – Virtual vs. In-Person

Dan O’Connor and Jeffrey Katzman discuss the difference between in-person and virtual improv exercises in a podcast conversation. While in-person exercises allow coaches to see the physicality and engagement level of participants, virtual sessions can also build communities and inspire engagement. However, virtual exercises can be challenging since coaches can’t see participants’ physical engagement. Nevertheless, smaller groups on virtual platforms can increase engagement, and improv exercises can help build communities virtually. 

Life Changing Improv

Dan O’Connor and Jeffrey Katzman discussed the importance of being changed by each other in improvisation. They explain that the audience goes to the theater to watch other people be changed and that good narrative creates oxytocin in the brain. The speakers stress that it is the performers’ job to be changed by each other as that is what the audience wants to see. They also touch on the importance of perspective taking and being open to changing one’s beliefs for personal growth and healing.

Who is Dan O’Connor and Jeffrey Katzman?

Dan O’Connor is a multi-faceted actor, improviser, writer and director.  Dan is the founder and former Producing Artistic Director of the critically acclaimed Impro Theatre in Los Angeles.  Coaching and consulting work includes Disney and Dreamworks Animation, Cirque du Soleil, and numerous Fortune 500 Companies. He has taught at USC, UCSB, Pepperdine, DUKE and the McCombs MBA Program at UT-Austin. As an actor he has appeared in everything from Seinfeld to NCIS.

Dr. Jeff Katzman is a psychiatrist and professor at the University of New Mexico Department of Psychiatry, Adjunct Professor at the Yale Department of Psychiatry and Director of Education at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT. Dr. Katzman has published widely in the area of psychodynamic psychiatry and has studied applied improvisation for over 30 years. He is the author of two books examining the applications of improvisation to life, and an original novel, The Storymaker – a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. Dr. Katzman is a passionate educator  in the area of human attachment, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and family systems, and has won many awards for his teaching.

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Improving Workplace Relationships Quotes

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