Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Blog Ep 120
What does improv have to do with IT? In the kickoff episode of our new “Improvised Intelligence” series, entrepreneur, author and business coach Gina Trimarco from Pivot 10 shares the key to having smarter conversations; practicing better self-awareness and being a team player.
We all know the stereotype, and oftentimes it’s true — IT professionals can fall behind when it comes to having social competence in a business environment. They get so caught up in their own silos they forget that the more they help make other departments look their best, the better it looks for their own. The problem is that tech-minded people can sometimes struggle with improvised intelligence.
Improvised intelligence runs parallel to emotional intelligence, which is the ability to be aware of and control our own emotions and influence others’. While most people are born with some level of EQ (emotional IQ), improvised intelligence serves as the toolkit for improving your communication and social skills, and it must be learned and practiced often.
At the core of improvised intelligence is making other people feel heard in any environment. Here’s one example — if someone presents you with an idea, you don’t say, “Yeah, but…” and make them hesitant to speak up in the future. Instead, a good leader will say, “Yes! And also…” This ensures the person feels respected and ready to contribute again.
This drives home the point that it’s not ever about you or your own agenda, because when you make everyone else on your team look good, you look good by default. Gina said the goal is to be “the player everyone wants to play with.”
Now, IT people, it’s time to test your self-awareness. For years, you’ve notoriously (and maybe unfairly) been seen as the “Negative Nellies” of the business world, according to Adam. Admit it: sometimes you drag people down with the doom and gloom of cybersecurity, rules for passwords, etc. You also tend to not intermingle with other departments as much. But the hard truth is, said Skip, “if people don’t want to talk to you, it’s hard to have a conversation.”
Fortunately, you have the power to change this. By staying hyperaware and anticipating rejection, you can change these predetermined attitudes. You know walking in that the employees might not be super excited to see you. So, you prove them wrong and shock them with your kindness and charisma.
Gina said in her years of experience with improv coaching, she’s encountered two types of people: those who know they need her help, and those who insist they don’t. (HINT: the people who think they don’t need her help actually need it the most.) The determining factors between the two, she said, are company culture and self-awareness as an individual.
The self-aware people are naturally positive and energetic, but just need some coaching on how to translate that into effective conversation. The others are only taking the class because the company forced them to, and they resist criticism. The more they fight the training, she said, the worse the work culture tends to be.
Many IT cultures are young and malleable, meaning one person’s positive or negative attitude can influence the entire vibe of the company for years to come. In building your culture, it’s important to break out of your own little tech world and think, how can we help accounting and build a relationship with them? What about the sales department?
Gina said she can instantly tell the IT departments who care about the rest of the company from the ones who don’t. There’s a massive difference between the two. So, which one are you? Are you the “Negative Nelly” of your company, or are you contributing to a positive, collaborative work culture through meaningful conversation?
Be sure to listen to the podcast Gina’s fail-turned-success of the week about loyalty and second chances.
Gina will return next week with "Acceptance vs Agreement: Yes...And"