Don’t think Twice is a movie about a New York improv group called The Commune. Commune members Miles, Samantha, Jack, Allison, Bill and Lindsay invent comedy without a script and without a net. They’re clever, fast, and spontaneous – building on each others’ ideas like best friends – or coaching partners.
While Don’t Think Twice is about what fame does to relationships, it’s also a celebration of improv. At the beginning of the film, the cast lays out the Improv’s three rules:
First: Say yes, meaning buy into whatever reality your partner presents you with.
Second: Remember that it’s all about the group, not about you.
And finally: Don’t think. Get out of your head. Live in the moment.
All good advice — onstage, or off but especially helpful to coaches. Improvisation is theater without a script. It can feel out of control. Here there is a real correlation to coaching which can also feel out of control. After all there is no script, each client is different and each conversation unique. Sounds pretty scary until, like the audience in an improve show, you come to relish the surprise and spontaneity of coaching and relax in to it. Saying YES to what ever the client brings to the table.
Some coaches try to maintain control by asking a series of questions that will lead the client to an answer. This is more like the coach’s agenda that the clients and by doing so the coach cannot actively listen and respond in the moment- often missing the underlying reasons behind the client’s challenge. Being 100% present for a client requires the coach to let go and enjoy the not knowing what’s coming next!
Let’s take a closer look at the 3 improv techniques mentioned in the movie and apply them to coaching: