Industry Content & Media

Don’t Laugh: A Hobby Could Spur Career Success

Author: Angela Campiere       

How dabbling in calligraphy, gardening, and even improv can boost work performance.

In an increasingly connected and time-crunched world, personal hobbies are often the first things that get cut from a busy life. Research suggests, however, that hobbies can be key to workplace success. In a study of nearly 350 people from various professional backgrounds, researchers found that those who regularly engaged in a creative hobby scored 15 percent to 30 percent higher on performance assessments than workers who didn’t have a creative outlet.

Creative activity covers a lot of ground and can range from painting to crocheting. But one hobby to consider is improv comedy. While improv might not be everyone’s ideal, its concepts are said to improve work performance.

That’s the premise behind comedian Bill Connolly’s 2013 book Funny Business. In it, he offers lessons from comedy (like communication skills) that can be applied to the work world. Other lessons can be found in Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses No, But Thinking and Improves Creativity and Collaboration — Lessons from The Second City by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton.

Tina Fey talks about the “Yes, and” improv concept in her bestseller Bossypants. Since improv actors don’t follow a script, they must adapt to whatever suggestions the audience or their teammates throw at them, agree with the direction their partners take, and add their own contributions to the scene.

This “Yes, and” concept — which is the opposite of the “No, but” response — is adaptable to an office environment and can be a catalyst for professional creativity. Saying “yes” promotes team and individual confidence and forces consideration of options or other workflows. Adding “and” allows workers to be part of the conversation and contribute to the solution, making the ultimate outcome a group effort. It’s said that when one starts saying “yes” to ideas it can change how he or she is perceived at work.

The true ticket to success with the concept, though, is to avoid turning it into a “Yes, but” response. “But” is a showstopper, a scene stealer and a confidence buster — the opposite of what the principles of improv support and of what’s needed to boost a career.

Looking for more ways to boost your career outside of the office? Check out these tips for getting the most out of your weekend.

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