Brainstorming conversations can topple into idea-crushing ones. It’s easy to hear yourself saying, “No, I don’t like that idea. I’ve got a better one.” or “That’s a bit stupid. I can’t see it working.”
You’ll end up talking to yourself because no-one will want to offer anything.
However, you can make suggestions or steer a conversation to a different angle without knocking someone’s offer to the ground.
Theatre improvisation techniques are a great way to develop this skill but very few companies get the opportunity to experience these. I won’t deny you, though, as you can take the fundamental concept of improvisation – accepting ‘an offer’ or an idea and then making it into something else – with these 10 phrases:
1. How about….?
2. What if we were to…?
3. What are our alternatives…
4. What about…?
6. One way out would be to…
7. Another way of doing that would be…
8. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to…?
9. How would it be if….?
10. Maybe we could try to explore this another way.
Pay attention to your body language and intonation, making sure that your non-verbal communication isn’t shouting: “What ARE you thinking?!” Look and sound interested.
So not this: But this: