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The A to Z Guide to Life – Letter 'I' Monday February 1, 2016

'I' is for 'Improv' – used by Drama experts as short for 'Improvisation'.

This is one of my favourite forms of Art. It is displayed particularly well in the Game Show, 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?'

With Improv, as in the show, the goal is to create flowing dialogue – and there are rules to the Game of Improv.

My alternative title to today's blog is, 'Turning Talking Traps into Flowing Conversations' – in recognition that being 'misunderstood' is one of the major blocks to enjoying a life to the full.

We can learn from the principles of improvisation. So let me begin with the key question, "Which would you prefer: points or prizes?"

In popular Game Shows, points make prizes but in 'The Game of Strife' the rules are the opposite. You can make your point and win the argument, but the only 'prize' you'll get is a damaged relationship and often resentment. If you would prefer to have the prize of a great long-term relationship, you need to play by different rules. And this is where Improv can help.

In Improv you never negate the point of another player on stage. If one suggests a scenario where they have been injured in some adventure, the next player can ruin the play simply by saying, "No you're not!" Any negation blocks the flow. In the rest of life, this is called an 'Empathy Blocker'!

I have seen this time and time again in relationships. One party continually blocks the other's flow by putting them down or contradicting what they say. It never works. Never.

Improv Professionals use 'and' a lot to move the flow on. They accept the other person's position and then build from it. It's a 'yes + and' strategy that works well. It builds relationships upon the foundation of letting the other party know they have been heard and understood.

So the next time you're tempted to contradict someone, realise you are falling into a Talking Trap. Press Pause! Then, let the conversation flow by acknowledging the other person's point and then build upon it. It takes practice, but the prize of free flowing relationships founded on deep rapport is well worth the effort.

I am so committed to the importance of improving relationships that I am launching a new radio show today! It's called, 'The Really Useful ShowTime' (T.R.U.S.T. for short), and exists to deliver on one promise: that the content will be really useful! You can listen to this for free around the World by tuning in to:
The timing is Noon-2 pm UK time.

The first show is going to cover how to improve your memory recall – something I think we'd all find 'Really Useful'.

DJ Lexi!
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 7:36am

Just say, "No!" to blocking the flow!

Popcorn Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 7:55am

Thanks Lexi, very helpful, practical advice. Xx

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:43am

You're so welcome, Popcorn! Have an amazing day. L'xx

LillyPet Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:14am

Morning DJ Lexi!
It was SO good to read your blog! You have put into words what happens when the communication at work with a particular individual has broken down, if there is an "issue" My flow is blocked, and I am continually contradicted which as you say never works!
I dont want to dwell on the negative energy though, one of the things that has brought me down in the past. Onwards and upwards :)) Thank you so much, I feel validated! LP xx

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:44am

Hey Lovely LillyPet, don't let the ...... grind you down! At least you can play your part now and not respond in (un)kind. You can be an Empathy Unblocker! A passionate plumber who helps relationships flow!!!! L'xx

Lou Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:17am

What a great blog, thanks Lexi. I shall endeavour to be a 'yes + and' person more often.

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:45am

Thanks Lou! That "Yes and" combo works wonders... have fun. L'xx

danielle Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:23am

Morning Lex, what a great blog (as usual). This has come at a good time for me. My OH family have a text group on which we can communicate about meet ups etc (me, OH, both his parents, sister and her OH). I often find it difficult as his sister can be quite bossy (telling us not asking us where we will all meet up, having a dig if we are busy and not meeting up), she can be quite self centred (telling us all about their up coming trip to NZ, what they are buying next etc) and when we say things she often has a way of doing it better etc or has advice on our life. I am not sure if she means to do these things or if 90% of it is my anxiety and paranoia getting the better of me. the latter is most likely. But the key thing whcih i HATE is how I react. I am not a mean person, but it makes me want to compete and say how much better our plans are than theirs, or brag about what we have been doing. It makes me adopt the behaviours i dislike in her. I am blocking the flow completely. I get obsessive over it and then everything she says I can find the negative in it. xxxx

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:49am

Hi Danielle, thanks for encouraging me! I see a beautiful combination of words at the close of your post: "...and then..." I feel these words are for you today. If you can find that pause to respond to those Empathy Blockers who surround us all with an, "...and then..." you can keep them in their flow, and then divert it in a more useful direction that you have in mind. I'm excited for you, even though I respect that this is a challenge for all of us. L'xx

danielle Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 9:16am

Thank you Lex - you always have hope for us all, which gives me hope too. But you do it in such a gentle way it doesnt feel overwhelming, more achievable. Thank you thank you thank you xxx

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 4:23pm

Thank you, Danielle - I'm really built up by your kindness. L'xx

susan Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 9:42am

yes and....being ignored is also a big negative...or to have your point brought back into the conversation (right away or days later) without acknowledging that you were the one to make it in the first place! This is a great post, Lex. Very simple to remember the rule you've given us and I know it will be very helpful. Good luck with the show launch; will try to catch at least some of it. xx

Norman Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 11:46am

Susan, "to have your point brought back into the conversation without acknowledging that you were the one to make it in the first place!" Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It sounds like you are leading very subtly and effectively. I used to think my son never listened to me. Now I sit in bemusement as he passes on my "wisdom" to others.

susan Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 2:38pm

hahaha thank you for the very positive perspective on that, Norman. I should lighten up and accept it as flattery. I'm always careful to say ' you mentioned earlier' or 'x was saying the other day that...' so am probably looking for the same awareness/generosity from others. But it is a small matter and I'll try to be bemused (as you say) that the point was received. xx

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 4:25pm

Wise words of encouragement, Norman. Helping us all flow. Bemused is such a beautiful word, Susan! I believe being ignored is actually more harmful psychologically than being insulted, so I'm glad you're getting a glimpse of how the power of flow may help. L'xx

susan Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:10pm

Yes, 'bemused' is a gorgeous word to say, too. It was Norman's word today. xx

Hopeful One Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 10:09am

Hi Lexi- a great blog highlighting the importance of communication in our lives or often the lack of it. One rule I follow , if the subject and conversation allows it ... is to say nothing if I have nothing positive to say. This forces me to focus on the positive aspects of any communication and build on that.

Today's laugh

A teacher asks one of the boys in her class, "Can people predict the future with cards?" His response is, "My mother can." The teacher replies in disbelief, "Really?" The young boy iss quick to explain, "Yes, she takes one look at my report card and tells me what will happen when my father gets home."

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 4:26pm

Hi Hopeful One - I laughed out loud! And I really like your 'silent running' rule. That's a wholesome approach that I shall borrow if I may. L'xx

Mary Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 1:25pm

Very helpful post Lex. And - I'm listening to your show as I'm writing this!

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 4:27pm

Thanks for your messages, Mary - means a lot to me. L'xx

Anonymous Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 1:30pm

"Hi Lex
I am without internet access yet again but in the library now. You are so right about the flow of conversation. We can do so much to make it flow. I sometimes hesitate before replying or launching in! A small silence will usually allow me to collect my thoughts and appear reasonable even if I disagree with the person.
I haven't got your blog to hand as I have asked Caroline to post my comment. But I am sure the skills you give us today will help me enormously to participate better in social situations. A novel idea. Julx"

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 4:28pm

Hi Jules, thanks for checking in - and with the magic of the pause. That "pause for thought" can allow gracious contributions to emerge for even those with whom, as you say, we disagree with. Would be great to catch up soon. L'xx

The Gardener Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 5:34pm

This morning the psychiatric nurse came in to see how my 'morale' was holding up, it isn't. Things are getting much worse. BUT, how I deal with the professionals is germane to today's blog. These people, due to an ageing population, are very stretched. If you are either garrulous or unable to express yourself time is wasted all round. I always do a precis of the last two weeks - from my personal diary. I go back to the script the next morning, whenever, and make sure that it's not a dreary moan (too easy) where nothing can be done but commiserate. We can (it forms a basis of consultation for doctors, and looking at any practical help possibilities with social workers) make decisions or they take away my 'paper' annotated if they have to report further. Having spent a lot of my life at awful meetings, chairman who do not chair, agenda not kept to, minutes pure fiction. When it is just personal conversation, as said in posts above, people 'jump' in with their 'important' views without having even listened to the conversation. The Quakers (forgotten the actual system) have a way of extreme politeness where people are not interrupted, I like the expression the 'Talking trap'. A huge problem talking another language is that you are so busy working out the correct grammar for your reply you miss the important points. And the French never leave a 'hole' in the conversation. Like 'confrontational' interviews. We listen to Radio 4 a lot - and frequently interviewer and interviewee are yelling at each other (especially if one is a politician, who takes the chance to make a speech, and not answer questions if he can help it). E-mails are the best conversation I know. Thanks Lex

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 7:44pm

Hi Gardener, I do love your use of language... and to think that you can do this in more than one language is an inspiration. I, too, prefer email - as it gives me a chance to "measure it twice; cut it once" - the Carpet Fitter's Principle. Edit, edit, publish! Sending you my best, L'xx

Mary Tue, Feb 2nd 2016 @ 9:33am

Good points - both of you and yes - emails can be wonderful. I find however that they do not convey tone of voice adequately and sometimes I have inadvertently hurt people with my words. Mind you - I'm sure I have hurt them with my voiced words too: bit of a blunt instrument sometimes....

Bearofliddlebrain Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 7:12pm

Hi Lex, I have been struggling with this sort of communication with family (extended and close) who, if I don't get my point across in double quick time, they will jump in with their version, their opinions, the story THEY wish to tell, regardless of hurting my feelings. I've been putting up with this for years but recently it's come to a head and I have just had to walk away, get out of the room, bite my tongue, keep silent and just let them get on with it, but it is so demeaning and sends me down - perhaps they think that's where me and my opinions belong...way down below? But I know I have valid things to say, and I agree TG....emails are helpful as you don't get interrupted!!!
Thanks Les...sorry I didn't get to hear your show...hoping it went well as I am sure it will have done!
Bear hugs to all x

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:12pm

Hi Bearofliddlebrainbutwonderfullywarmheart... I would find it hard to forgive anyone who hurt your feelings, but I must. Know for certain that I have seen and experienced just how valuable you are - you are treasured by those with eyes to see the true you. L'xx

Mary Tue, Feb 2nd 2016 @ 9:34am

hear hear! Echoed loudly

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 8:10pm

As promised, link to today's show... part one of three:

Lex Mon, Feb 1st 2016 @ 9:20pm

Part 2 (of 3) from today's launch of "The Really Useful Show Time" - inspired by our A to Z series...

Lex Tue, Feb 2nd 2016 @ 7:34am

Part 3 of 3. Not the whole show but edited parts!

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