Learning Empathy & Emotional Intelligence Through Improv
Modern society is finally beginning to acknowledge the importance of emotional intelligence.
Why should you care about emotional intelligence?
Almost every factor to success relies on how you interact with other people. The ability to communicate, listen, express empathy, and collaborate are all skills using emotional intelligence. And unlike IQ, your EQ can be strengthened using different skills and tools.
Improvisation, and other expressive arts, is a really effective tool to teach emotional intelligence as a skill set.
Improv therapy focuses on the therapeutic aspects of improvisation.
Traditional therapy can incorporate improv in therapy settings for many benefits, including teaching empathy and communication skills. Research has shown that improv can be beneficial both for the patient and the counselor.
Individuals in therapy benefit from the freedom and safety improv allows so they can better explore emotions. Professional healers can learn the same skills, and research has shown that empathy from a therapist or counselor is monumentally beneficial for the patient’s progress.
A win-win for healing all around.
Communicating with other people can be difficult.
Whether it’s talking to strangers at a party or having an unpleasant conversation with your significant other, communication is a sometimes uncomfortable part of life. But it doesn’t have to be so hard - talking and listening are actual skills that can be improved. And improv is a great way to work through communication blocks.
With structured rules, such as “Yes, and!” and “Always make your partner look good”, improvisers quickly learn how to listen and agree with their peers. Being forced to focus on your partners needs will enhance empathy and an understanding of communal trust.
These practices teach helpful communication skills for group and one-on-one settings.
Emotional intelligence is not just a home life concern.
Businesses are also noticing the importance of communication and empathy. Just last year, Google made headlines after researching their employee data. They realized the top most important qualities of employees were surprisingly not technical skills, but actually “soft skills”, such as communication, listening, and empathy.
Practicing soft skills in a safe setting like improv class can make a person more likely to be hired and more successful in the workplace. Maybe someday offices like Google will even host improv workshops to bring employees together and improve communication for everyone.