Approaching Improv with Caitlin Drago — Communication and Connection Strategies for Leaders


Ross Romano: You're listening to the Authority Podcast on the BE Podcast Network. Welcome in, everybody, and thank you once again for being with us for another episode. It should be really enlightening, interesting, give you some new ideas to think about and apply to your work. My guest today is Caitlin Drago, Caitlin is a Los Angeles based actor turned Upstate New York based certified leadership coach, trainer, facilitator, and she works with leaders and teams to help them listen to one another, communicate and connect using improvisation as a platform for interactive learning. Caitlin has a new book out now called Approaching Improv, Communication and Connection in Business and Beyond, and we are going to talk all about it.

Caitlin, welcome to The Authority.

Caitlin Drago: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Ross Romano: I wanted to start with your mission around the work that you do. I think you know, getting into that and then we'll, we'll talk a little bit more about kind of the [00:01:00] cultures that you're working to create, but It's sort of beginning with the end in mind here and then and kind of giving listeners a view ahead to what we're working toward in this conversation.

But yeah, what's the mission behind the work that you're doing when you're working with organization

Caitlin Drago: You know, if I really, really distill it down, it's helping people to learn how to listen. To one another. I think that a lot of things could change for the better if folks slowed down and were present with one another and really heard and considered what the other person said. I know that sounds really simple and there's a lot that goes into it, but to answer your question in The simplest way I can.

I'm on that mission to help people to learn how to listen to one another and connect through listening.

Ross Romano: and from a I guess a tangible perspective, once you've [00:02:00] gone into an organization and you've worked with them and you've kind of gotten them up to speed on your approach using improv and the other techniques that we'll talk about, what, what does the culture look like that you're wanting to create that hopefully will be the end result of this work?

Caitlin Drago: Yeah, I want to create cultures of empathy, creativity, and trust. Again, starting with how people are communicating and connecting with one another and impacting their relationships and the way that they work as a team. starting at that point.

Ross Romano: Excellent. And So open mindedness and active listening are clearly, I think, central to this. And, and I do believe like one of the, whenever we're presenting ideas, right, we have to make Based them around certain core assumption and I think one of those in this case is that most people would agree that [00:03:00] these are worthy goals, but may not know how to achieve them or how to execute on it.

But I, I do think there's at least. People who either on the surface or if they really search deep into their heart of hearts out there in leadership positions who may question whether this is objectively the right approach, you know, should everybody actually be doing this? Or is this just one way of doing it?

Or you know, because they may, for example. I think part of the, the listening, the open mindedness, the improv that we'll talk about is that there is some, there, there's some merit to all ideas or that or that our goal should, should be to incorporate and, and include new ideas, right? And then others, you know, they may think, well, the default should be no.

From your, you know, perspective, why, why would you say [00:04:00] like, this is. objectively the right way to go about it. You know, there's, there's, there's a real basis for this. And so let's kind of make the case for that so that we can then start to develop the skillset.

Caitlin Drago: Yeah, and you really hit the nail on the head of what that tendency is. Okay, I like this idea of considering other people's thoughts and considerations, but there's got to be an end point, right? We can't just brainstorm all day long. And that's not necessarily what we're pointing to. So the first rule in improv is that we always say yes and, and that means that we actively listen to the idea that's put forth and then we add on to it with our own ideas so that it can be a collaborative conversation.

And yes, if you follow that to a T all of the time, things could go, you know, a little, a little, a little bananas.

Ross Romano: right,[00:05:00]

Caitlin Drago: At the core of it, is being present with the other person and considering what they are saying before you go to the automatic no. We don't have to worry about people saying no to things because that's our default.

That's not a skill that we need to work on.

Ross Romano: right,

Caitlin Drago: What we do need to work on is noticing when am I jumping to no too soon? When am I thinking more about what I'm going to say than really listening to this person? And how can I look for what can work within what they're saying versus what can't work? And it's all of that that opens us up to more ideas and to innovation.

And underneath that, to building relationships where there is trust. If I know that every time I come to you, Ross, you're going to say, Nope, that's not going to work. Let me tell you all the [00:06:00] reasons why, eventually. I'm going to stop coming to you with any ideas. I don't want to be shot down every time. If I know that I can come to you and you'll at least listen to me and hear me out and maybe play with an idea for a moment with me.

Then I'm going to come to you with all of my great ideas, and so we're able to both build that relationship, build that trust, and get the most out of the people who we're working with as well. (ad here)

Ross Romano: Yeah. Yeah, I, I, I think we'll talk a little more about the various fears around improv and improv approach, but I think one of them is something that you hit on. Around what, what is going to be the outcome? Where is this all headed? Right? And you know, and improvisational comedy by nature is designed that there's no net [00:07:00] underneath it.

There's no parameters. It can go in any possible direction. And that's kind of the goal, right? Is to see where, where does this go now in, in,

Caitlin Drago: I'll push back on you a little bit, because this is what, this is why, one of the reasons why people are maybe a little put off or scared of improv is that preconceived notion that there is no net and there are no parameters. When a team goes out on stage without a script to put on a show, the reason that they're able to do that is because of the parameters and because of the net that's put in place.

Those parameters are we are all agreeing that we're going to say yes to each other. We're going to build on one another's ideas and make this a collaborative process. No one's in charge. We're going to do this all together and that net is this idea that we're all agreeing to make each other look good.

And so when I go out on stage, I don't have to worry about saying the brilliant thing or if I say [00:08:00] something off, you know, someone else is going to pick that up and they're going to help make that make sense to move the scene or the story forward. So we go out knowing that no matter what we throw up out there, someone's going to pick that up.

And so we do have that bit of a net and parameters to then play. within. So I always say, you know, for folks who are rule followers like I am, I've got them covered when we do this. There are parameters, there are rules, there are, you know, guideposts and bumpers for us.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Right. And your net is your team. Right. And you know, but, but every context includes those things either explicitly organically, you know, through via agreements. I, you know, and I think that some people who maybe have some resistance to this are. [00:09:00] And resistance, even just to brainstorming, right, like, and to do effective brainstorming, we do want to use these improv techniques so that we can actually, you know, try to build on and explore ideas, but that maybe there's a fear, oh, it's just boundless brainstorming, we come up with an idea that we can't practically implement because they don't fit within budget, we don't have the resources, etc.

But one, I do believe that in most cases, you know, those, those problems naturally solve themselves in a lot of cases, you know, the people in the room understand the environment in which they're working, so they're not likely to throw out a bunch of things that would have no place within that context, but also It can be a good insight into the, you know, future opportunities and future innovation.

Right? I mean, just to use probably what's not that, not that creative of an example, but it's just [00:10:00] coming to mind right now for, you know, listeners, maybe who are working within schools, right? Let's say 10 or let's say 20 years ago. You may have, if you brought a group of educators from different.

schools and districts together and said, let's kind of brainstorm about what are some of the best ideas that we can try to implement to you know, to really take student success to the next level, to best prepare them for, for real world you know, application of their skills, et cetera. You may have come up with the idea of, okay, the best way to be able to, you know, individualize instruction and success, da da da, is that every student needs to have their own computer, their own device, and we need to be able to provide that.

And at that time, You might have said, well, that idea is ridiculous. It's impractical. We don't have the budget, we don't have the funds. We don't but it, but it, it leads to setting a goal of [00:11:00] saying, okay, we can't do this necessarily today, but if we know that one, this is where the passion is within our building.

This is the idea that we, we can exist. We can see how it is clearly in alignment with the goals that we have in our organizational mission, that it does give us some clarity towards something we can work toward, and that's not something to be afraid of. You know, it's not something that necessarily feels stymied by because sometimes things evolve a lot more quickly.

quickly than we think. And oh, you know, okay, whether it's in that case, you know, technology evolves really quickly. Oh, all of a sudden, this is really a realistic thing that we could actually do. And because we were thinking ahead to it, we now know what we would do with that idea. Or in other cases, it could be the thing that helps you get out of a downturn or an organizational rut, [00:12:00] right, where there are those ups and downs that happen in business.

And if you have to think of a new idea every time you're in a downturn you're starting from behind versus maybe staying ahead. But you know, not that that's the day to day thing, but that that's like a reason to maybe not hold on to that fear of where is this headed? We're just going to come up with a bunch of ideas that we can't use because it's just, you know, we're just giving everybody you know, an unstructured environment to, to come up with whatever.

Caitlin Drago: So to that, I have two things, two comments. The first is that the benefit to coming up with something that can seem completely out there and something that, you know, there's no way that we can do this. What you can do in that moment, along with saying, okay, this is a goal that we can set aside for now and give some time to think through how that could happen.

So that we've got that in our back pocket, if an opportunity arises. The other [00:13:00] approach that one could take is to look at the piece of the idea that they can build on right then. What is the piece of that idea that is plausible in this moment? So maybe it's, yeah, we want to have, we want to provide computers for every student. What I like about that idea is that we are finding a way to bring a personal piece of technology to each child. And then the other person might say, okay, yeah, what I like about that is, and then they can build on something and come up maybe with something that they wouldn't have come up with before on their own, if they had gone to the first, most obvious, easy to do idea.

There's actually times where I'll, you know, you said that sometimes they put pressure on themselves. Okay, we've got to come up with the best [00:14:00] idea. What if, in those situations, you said we were going to come up with the worst idea? Let's come up with the absolute worst idea. Let's take all of the pressure off of ourselves to come up with the perfect idea right off the bat.

And let's think of the thing that's going to get us kicked out of the district.

Ross Romano: Right.

Caitlin Drago: And then work backwards from there so you get yourself way outside of the box. And then work back from there. There was I was working with a group just last week. They were MBA, executive MBA students at RIT and. We were working around teamwork and ethics, which was an interesting subject matter to throw improv into, but they were, they were working on a scenario where there was an ethical dilemma, and I gave them that instruction.

What's the worst, and they, they came up with this idea of, well, you know what, let's just have everyone go to a barbecue and then [00:15:00] they'll fall asleep, and then we'll figure out what we're going to do in the morning. Terrible idea. What they pulled out of that was the possibility of, okay, maybe what this needs is simply a pause for everyone to think through what they, what we might do moving forward, instead of jumping to an assumption or an idea or a solution.

Ross Romano: Right. Yeah. And then there's even, you know, in, in situations which aren't necessarily typically thought of as improv, but maybe it's, You know, sparking collaboration, or maybe it's even conflict resolution situations where it's like, okay, what's the, what's the one thing you can agree with in this other person's idea or in, in the, the way it was framed by our recent guest Hesha Abrams here, what's one thing you don't hate, but, but basically saying like, Okay, you know, and in this case, like we're coming up with [00:16:00] ideas that we intentionally we think they're bad ideas, but then we can investigate them and say, Hmm, like there is something to this or ideas that we intentionally think are not necessarily bad, but impractical, something we can't actually achieve, but then we can kind of look for what are the component parts that we maybe could do or could try or could explore.

And then do we feel like If we're doing a small part of a big bold idea, you know, toward our big, big dreams, that we actually can see ourselves making progress toward our goals in a way that we might not if we were only thinking small because we felt like we only had small opportunities or small resources, right?

So you talked about, yeah, go ahead.

Caitlin Drago: in those conflict situations, if you use that tool of, okay, here's the thing that I don't hate, the base of that starts with actually having to listen to the argument of the other person [00:17:00] fully so that you can find the thing that you don't hate. And I know we're using the word hate, but it's, it's that.

It's the positive inquiry and looking for what can work versus what can work and you can't work and you can't do that unless you are actually listening to the whole entire thing that the other person says. When I work with groups and apply, you know, the improv approach to situations where there is a difficult conversation, or maybe we're giving and receiving feedback, or they're, you know, solving a problem together in some Capacity.

Oftentimes we skip over the whole finger pointing stage because we are looking for what can work and we're jumping right to problems, creative problem solving versus spending that time figuring out whose fault it was. Mm hmm.

Ross Romano: Yeah. And yeah, I think it illustrates [00:18:00] a variety of things. One is in that case, if we're talking, you know, conflict resolution, the context is understanding that We need to, we need to determine a solution one way or another. Now either it's entirely in favor of one party or the other, or it's a compromise.

That's something though that can be applied to other situations, to creating an organizational culture and saying, okay, A solution means that, you know, a culture should be representative of the individuals who are part of that workplace. So just having it be a top down approach where one person decides what it is, and everybody just has to do that thing is unlikely to.

come into a thriving, living, evolving culture, right? So it's a solution as we need to have different inputs and come to ideas that different people can get on board with, that nobody's totally opposed to, that sort of is [00:19:00] representative of the individuals we have here. I also think that there's something about disaggregating the idea from the individual and that working in both.

In both directions, you know, one, one of those things being, if it's somebody that you really don't like, don't feel like you get along with, right, that you don't want to just discount any idea that person might have because you have a personal distaste for them or antipathy, clearly that's present in a, you know, a person.

a mediation or an arbitration, a conflict, you know, where you're, you're antagonistic parties, but you need to try to see some path forward. I also think it happens in the other direction, where you want to be able to disaggregate the merit of an idea from somebody that you really do like. And, and who maybe is charismatic and influential and say, well, we can't just go [00:20:00] along with everything this person says, just because we like them, because we need to be able to investigate their ideas and investigate their ideas on equal ground to this other person's idea who doesn't have those same personal characteristics.

And if I'm the person who ultimately, maybe I'm the manager or the, you know, whatever, but I'm the ultimate decision maker, I need to create an environment where. We actually can do that. Otherwise we're not really making decisions based on the quality of the ideas, the opportunities, things that might be best for the company, but it's who's the best at making us feel like we like their idea.

And those are skills for individuals to develop, but still, right? I, I think it is, there's something to be said for, Okay. Kind of being able to really focus in on, okay, what are the things that I like about what they're saying? And, and that that would apply equally regardless of who's saying it.[00:21:00]

Caitlin Drago: Exactly. And when it comes to that, the yes and framework at its core, it creates that even playing field so that it's not just the loudest person who's being heard. It forces us to have a collaborative conversation where two people are contributing Equally to an idea, so much so that hopefully at the end, we don't even know who the idea came from, you know, it's all been woven together.

And again, you know, you're talking about having these difficult conversations and trying to, to separate the person from the idea or the person from the situation. And at the end of the day, how can we make these conversations. ones that foster connection as well, so that moving forward, even if it is a tough conversation.

that the relationship has been [00:22:00] improved and that we've built trust. There was a, just yesterday, I was working with a team of leaders at a school district, and we were talking about giving and receiving feedback. And afterwards, I got a really nice note from one of the participants saying, you know, I had this tough meeting that I was really dreading, and it was still a hard conversation to have.

But with what we had talked about, we were able to leave the, leave that conversation having built connection at the end of it.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Is that another, another of the The fears that people may have is do they feel like approaching everything from the yes and perspective in business is maybe feels inauthentic to some people like, you know, there's some people that just have [00:23:00] a really hard time saying yes or smiling at ideas that they, they really feel like they don't like and maybe not, you know, Yeah, right.

Not being able to zoom out and seeing how one just having an open mind toward ideas and considering them doesn't mean you have to ultimately do them. But it does, it does increase your influence and the positive perception of you. People feel good about interacting with you and bringing you ideas because they get a positive perception,

Caitlin Drago: Yes. That is one of the fears, you know. Well, I can't say yes to everything. That, that doesn't make any sense. And The, you know, I call it the, the yes and mindset and then, you know, that plus the idea of making each other look good equals the improv approach. So this yes and mindset, I [00:24:00] shift it from, you know, a rule to a mindset because it, when, when I work with teams, Absolutely.

We practice this to an absolute extreme and I hold them really close to that rule so that they can practice it to an extreme and then scale it back in a way that feels authentic to them when they go back to work. So, maybe what they take from it is, alright, I'm just going to try to be more present. It doesn't mean that I have to smile and say yes to every idea.

I'm just going to focus on being more present with the people I'm in front of, or maybe they're going to try to shift their focus to, okay, I know my tendency is to say no. Let me see if there's something that I can find, like, a little sliver of what I like in this, or maybe it is a simple language shift from saying but to and, which often can, you can say the same message without being facetious or making empty promises.

[00:25:00] And at the same time with that simple language shift, like you said, it leaves that person feeling completely different. when they walk out of that room. So if, if I were to say, you know, Hey, Ross, you know, I, I've been working really hard. I, I want to raise. And you say, yeah, you want to raise, you've been working really hard, but I'm going to have to go check with financing.

I'm going to walk away thinking, oh, he's probably not going to do anything about that. And I'm going to bring that energy to the rest of my day. And, but if, if you were to instead say, yeah, you've been working really hard and you think you, and you think you deserve a raise, and I'm going to go check with finance on that first.

Ross Romano: Right.

Caitlin Drago: have not made any promises that you can't keep. And at the same time, I'm going to walk away feeling like I was actually heard and that maybe you're actually going to go and do something about a question that I probably, it probably took a lot of guts for me to come and approach you with. And it's a simple, simple [00:26:00] language shift of just taking your but and turning it into an and.

Ross Romano: Yeah, I mean, it's a way of being able to show somebody else that their glass is half full versus half empty. You're partially right instead of partially wrong. I was thinking of that particularly in, in relation to teachers and students, right? And how we can encourage, you know, continued progress toward mastery of an idea or a concept by just simply paying attention to our language.

You know, you put out a question, a student raises their hand, they, again, right, they do that thing that takes some courage to answer, and their answer is, you know, some percentage correct. Anywhere from 1 percent to 90%,

Caitlin Drago: Mm hmm. Mm

Ross Romano: And, but it's an, I would say, yes. You know, this, I can point out whatever is in there [00:27:00] and, and then encourage further thought, further exploration, discussion, but something that says, You know, you're on the right track basically versus yes, but again, which is like, well, you're, you're right a little bit, but you know, you're wrong about this other stuff or even no, I mean, it could, it could be a replacement for something that otherwise would be.

No, that's not right. And it's an opportunity to say, okay, what, what are all the things happening here that I can acknowledge and, and reward and recognize, right. Even if the thing that you said kind of feels totally wrong, right? I mean, you took the step to say it, you gave it a shot, right? Like there's, there's some way and, and again, that's just more encouraging.

And and, and it does seem like so much of the, the value and, and the Ultimate [00:28:00] efficacy of this approach is as simple as paying attention to language and paying attention to the way that we respond to people and the words we use regardless of, you know, what they said in the first place.

Caitlin Drago: yeah. And if you think about it too, it's about helping to keep the learning brain online. When we are, it's, it doesn't have to be, you know, this isn't, this isn't a positive or what is it? Toxic positivity situation. You know, we're not encouraging that. It's where are the opportunities? You know, when I have the option to say no and that person feels shut down, they might go into that fight or flight mode where their brain is no longer in that creative problem solving learning mode.

Where do I have a choice to do that versus saying yes and, or looking for what can work to keep that creative and positive part of our brain [00:29:00] online so that person can continue to learn that they can hear what you're saying. I've

Ross Romano: Yeah, I learned, I observed the funny version of this in with my son who's now three, but even when he was a

Caitlin Drago: got one of those!

Ross Romano: he would, he would try things and you know, sometimes it didn't work out the way he wanted. And if somebody would say good job to him, he would say Good job, like, because he knew it didn't work out, but if you say good try, that was encouraging.

And I was like, yeah, say good try. Cause he knows, like, he knows the difference between what he's trying to do and not. So if you, you know, if you patronize him, he's going to get mad. But if you just tell him, good, good try, let's try again. He, okay, I'll let's try. Yeah. But it was I found it pretty fun.

Are there like other. [00:30:00] Common, like, communication mistakes around this other than kind of, you know, failing to use the right words, other, other ways in which communication can be the impediment.

Caitlin Drago: Oh my gosh, communication can be the impediment so often, and it can be you know, I say a simple fix. It's not simple because people are complicated,

Ross Romano: Mm hmm.

Caitlin Drago: and so often folks just want to know that they have been heard. If somebody comes to you in a state of conflict, something's wrong, They're feeling anxious about something. One of the ways to help them to calm down and get grounded and be in a space where they can Then have a collaborative problem solving conversation with you is to first listen to them and let them know that they've been heard, whether that's, you know, reflecting back what you heard, just being with them, that's going to help bring them to a place [00:31:00] where they can then have a more productive conversation with you.

So often sometimes we jump right to problem solving when it's like, no, this person needs to know that they've been heard first. And then we can move forward. And one of the other common misconceptions that you've touched on a couple of times is, Oh, improv can be really intimidating. And what I love about improv is that it is something that we are doing all day, every day.

So when I work with a team or suggest this to somebody, It's not a completely new thing that's happening. They, you know, no one gave them a script in the morning. We're all just doing our best in dealing with whatever has been thrown at us. This is just another tool to add to their tool belt so that they can have more productive conversations and to foster better relationships.

through those [00:32:00] conversations.

Ross Romano: Right. And exactly in that way, you know, improv is reflective of a strong culture. It's a, it's a teamwork. It's a team approach in which everybody on that team is bought into and in agreement on what the culture is. So I think that's, you know, that's where some of that fear comes from is, Oh, if it kind of comes to me and I blank and I, I can't come up with anything.

I'm just going to, you know, I'm going to fall flat, but it's, it's, but you're not alone. It's, you know, you're, you're there, you're picking each other up. Same thing that should be happening in, in any other kind of environment, whether, whether it's a, you know, a sports team, an office, a school, whatever to say, okay, are we paying attention and tuned in enough to each other?

And we can tell when those moments are, where it's my turn to. jump in and help my teammate out and come in and just keep things moving [00:33:00] forward versus saying everybody's standing around and looking at,

Caitlin Drago: Yeah.

Ross Romano: know, you see.

Caitlin Drago: the other side of that coin of when can I jump in and help out is when can I step back so that somebody else can take the spotlight? So often we try to take everything on ourselves when there's likely somebody close by who that might be something that they're really interested in trying, or maybe it is a hidden skill that they have that we just don't know about.

So it's also about understanding What the other people around you are passionate about and what are they really good at so that when that opportunity comes, you can give them that option to step up and really shine in that moment and whatever position you hold, whether it is a leader or a teammate, you step back and make space for that person to step up and really look [00:34:00] incredible. (ad here)

Ross Romano: Yeah, I mean, it makes me think so much of particularly what you might observe in a, a functioning versus non functioning basketball team where there's the, there's a difference between a, you know, a, a flow of, of teamwork and collaboration where it just, Right, it's kind of like an organism and things naturally shift toward whoever has the advantage at a given time, you know, the better matchup or the hot hand or whatever, versus times where, you know, the teams are struggling to, where the whole is less than the sum of its parts because there's like forced turn taking, okay?

Now it's this guy's turn to have a possession and take a shot. Now it's the other guy and they're, they're not, you know, nobody's really adapting to the situation and the [00:35:00] context and, and, and, and it really is the difference between overachieving and underachieving, right? And, and what is the, the broader outcome?

And. So much of that just comes from its mentality, it's practice, it's really, you know, all those reps you know, how many hours does you know, an improv troop. You know, right? Rehearsal practice versus the time when they're on stage

Caitlin Drago: And it's.

Ross Romano: getting used to knowing I know exactly what's going to happen or I know where this person's going to go and take it because we've gone through it so many times and we're tuned into, we have that empathy and that perspective on, okay, I know how they think and they know how I think and we have that comfort level.

Caitlin Drago: Exactly. Yeah, it's really knowing that whole person that you're working with.

Ross Romano: Um, I, I don't want to, I mean, we've talked a lot about, of course, yes, and number one rule. But I don't want to miss the opportunity to highlight if there's other you know, [00:36:00] improv principles that explicitly, you know, should be highlighted that we should be bringing to the workplace.

Caitlin Drago: Yeah, you know, I guess I would just underline that idea of making each other look good. You know, they both really go hand in hand. I'm going to throw something out there. I know you're going to say yes to it. And also if something weird happens, we're all, you know, you're not going to point at me and laugh.

We're all, we're all here to really make each other shine, knowing that if we all do that for one another, we all end up looking really incredible in the end.

Ross Romano: So, so for the leaders listening, how, how do they go about getting their teams to buy into that? And I think in particular, two of the things that we should highlight as potential impediments. One, we've talked a lot about the fear, right? The fear of the approach. And the other thing that you mentioned is if it's done right, by the time it's concluded and we've come out with an end product it's [00:37:00] essentially. Nearly impossible to assign individual credit, right? Because it was such a collaboration that wherever that idea started or evolved, it comes out as a product of the team, which in some organizations and for some individuals in those organizations may not appeal to them because they, you know, they, they need, I mean, they may realistically in order to get where they want to go need to figure out how do I gain credit?

But you know, I guess how does a leader, you know, within their culture they're creating create an environment where this approach will take hold.

Caitlin Drago: You know, if it's One person who's trying to implement this, this change in this approach, I would say it always starts with modeling. Modeling that behavior first. If it, you know, the benefit of having a team do it together is we're all learning this at once and so people can buy in all together. But if you have one person say who's read the [00:38:00] book and they say, great, I want to bring this in, that's where you start.

You start with, with saying yes and maybe in a meeting you put some of those rules into place. Maybe you build it into the expectations for that meeting or for those conversations of we're going to say yes and to each other for the next Five minutes, or we're outlawing the word, but in here I have these yield signs that I'll hand out often that say yes and on them and those can act as those visual reminders that I'm going to slow down.

I'm going to let somebody else go first, and I'm going to keep that yes and principal front of mind so that can be something that is up. So it's that combination of modeling it themselves. and then finding little places where they can integrate that into the expectation for how people are to communicate [00:39:00] and connect with one another.

Ross Romano: hmm. Excellent. And what about from the employee perspective, let's say the individual who is not in charge of the organization or the team necessarily? and who, but who may want to kind of tap into some of the principles of this approach to make their ideas heard, right, or to gain more influence even if they may be the only one doing it.

How might they go about that?

Caitlin Drago: Yeah, there was a through, through the writing of this book, there was a study that I read about that was basically A what it was, was that they found that when other people amplify the ideas of others, it not only helps that other person's idea to be heard and considered as more with, you know, having more clout, it also helps with [00:40:00] the credibility of the person who has amplified that other person's idea, which Brings us back to modeling the behavior themselves, you know, when they start to bring that yes and into conversations when they start to try to make other people look good, that's, you know, that's the best place to start.

I know that sounds simple, but that's, and that's, that's what I am for that.

Ross Romano: Yeah, well, I mean, there, yeah, there are a variety of intangibles in addition to the things that are a little more tangible, right? On the one hand when we have an entire culture built around the approach, you know, we could come up with better ideas, more refined ideas have fewer missed, missed ideas,

Caitlin Drago: Huh.

Ross Romano: Fewer missed opportunities because things get brought to the table and [00:41:00] considered and all that. You know, on the other hand, there's also, yeah, there's, there's intangibles around influence and perspective and and how we relate to and perceive one another and and, and people certainly do have a more positive perception of those who champion one another's work and, and.

Again, like it doesn't, it be, being considerate of ideas and exploring them or treating the fact that somebody had them respectfully is not Inauthentic if you, if even if you are like I'm not really sure what this I idea is all about because

Caitlin Drago: and in the amplification, there's an opportunity there to build on that idea and make that idea even better so it can be, Hey, you know, Cheryl, I just heard [00:42:00] Cheryl just said X, Y, and Z. I think that's a great idea. And so it can be a both and kind of situation.

Ross Romano: right? Yeah. I mean there's humility to, I could be the only person who doesn't get it . Everybody else might say, wow, that's great. Or it. Again, I mean, it could encourage the next idea, right? This one, for whatever reason, this one's not going to work, it's not going to go anywhere, but this person feels encouraged to now come up with their next one because that one, you know, found somewhat of a receptive audience and some amplification and discussion which are all good things as we're dealing with, again, you know, to tie it back to, you know, Students and colleagues and cohort and all these different audiences who it's, there's relationships involved.

There's long term goals involved and we want to encourage you know, people to, to share, to think out loud, to work things through where they don't have the final [00:43:00] answer yet. Right. And to seek to seek support and collaboration. So these are all positives. Is there any final, Okay. Thing either that I haven't asked you about or, or any final point you'd like to distill for listeners to take away from the conversation.

Caitlin Drago: I think it would be more of a challenge to go out today and start with either being present, looking for something that you can say yes to, or simply starting with noticing when you're saying but, and then try to shift it to and.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Yeah. Start small and just, you know, even, even just being mindful of that, you may realize that you're doing this more than you. You thought you were and you may see results by trying the opposite. Listeners you can find the book Approaching Improv on Amazon. You can also learn more at Caitlin's website, inspireimprov.

com. We'll put the link [00:44:00] to that below where you can go directly and learn more about that. Anything else listeners should check out.

Caitlin Drago: that's it for now.

Ross Romano: Cool. Yeah. Well, there's a lot more in the book. We really only have scratched the surface there. So, you know, if you're thinking about your organizational goals, your organizational culture, things you'd like to see improved, done differently or just. ways to kind of surface, right? Bigger, better ideas to maintain, I think, consistent progress, right?

And avoid stagnation or avoid the, you know, the opportunity cost of, of missed ideas. There's a lot here. So check those out at the links. below. Also please do subscribe to the authority for more author interviews coming every single week. We'll continue to cover a variety of topics that we believe will benefit you in your roles and visit bpodcast.

network to learn about all of our shows. Caitlin, thanks again for being here.

Caitlin Drago: Thanks for [00:45:00] having me.

Creators and Guests

Ross Romano
Ross Romano
Co-founder of Be Podcast Network and CEO of September Strategies. Strategist, consultant, and performance coach.
Caitlin Drago
Caitlin Drago
Executive Coach, using improvisation to get your people communicating and working as a team
Approaching Improv with Caitlin Drago — Communication and Connection Strategies for Leaders