Celebrating Risk-taking in Medical Improv Promotes Assertiveness

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I value this conversation a lot b/c it seems vital to personal & professional growth. Click To Tweet

I had a great conversation recently with Keith Carlson, Kevin Ross, and Elizabeth Scala as their guest on RNFM Radio.  (Recorded here.)   It was very exciting to share some news about my new textbook, Successful Nurse Communication coming out on 9/4/2015 and we had a wonderful discussion about the underlying complexities of listening and assertiveness.  I value this conversation among nurse leaders a lot b/c these roots, that often involve personal growth in emotional intelligence are so vital to our professional development, the care we provide, and the cultures we work in.

I also got to talk about ‘Medical Improv’ and how this experiential learning process is such a fun way to grow personally and professionally.  (Don’t miss the spontaneous demos we did with “Yes, but..” and “One Upmanship”.)

thinkingOne topic I was going to elaborate on with respect to Med Improv and the powerful learning it offers regarding celebrating risk-taking (I thought of it, but forgot!) .  Anyways, in regular improv or that associated with improv comedy, one of the principles that we follow is often called, “Celebrating Failure“.    Basically, this is a little ritual that can be fined tuned among the group that is designed to provide a positive response when someone makes a mistake or perhaps is stuck and unable to respond in the moment with any particular activity.  Often times it involves the team clapping, snapping fingers, or bowing in a supportive gesture.  It is a super way to help people to take the risk of trying something new and different and to ensure team support.  Think about how profound this is in terms of our sense of belonging, psychological safety in groups, ownership for mistakes, and willingness to contribute ideas, concerns, and stopping the silence in healthcare.

It also helps explain how deeply complicated assertiveness can be and why teaching nurses to be assertive for themselves in addition to each other and patients is so critical.  Just think about emotional riripple water dropsk in a blaming or judging culture or toxic relation!

When I teach this principle in medical improv sessions I’ve started calling it ‘Celebrating Risk-taking”.  I do this to avoid any association with seeking out failures as we know in healthcare we do NOT want to do that!  I also like the framework for nurses of encouraging each other to step out of their comfort zones Click To Tweet

I also like the framework for nurses of encouraging each other to step out of their comfort zones in developing their self awareness, self-respect, and awareness and respect for others.  All of which are crucial for honoring diversity and building healthy workplace relationships and cultures.

It seems like a simple principle, doesn’t it?  Yet celebrating risk-taking can contribute to assertiveness, accountability, professionalism, new ideas, conflict management….in short, the learning can be profound!  

Email me to brainstorm how Medical Improv Training can help your team, organization, and the community you serve: beth@bethboynton.com.




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10 Responses to Celebrating Risk-taking in Medical Improv Promotes Assertiveness

  1. Donna Carol Maheady says:

    Can you imagine…colleagues clapping…or getting an award or mention in the hospital newsletter for taking a risk? Powerful stuff Beth!

    • Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

      Yes, YES, Donna!!! YES!! Noted in evaluations, taking risk with colleagues, teams, leaders and doctors.

  2. allewellyn says:

    Great post-Beth…risk taking is so important for professionals as it helps us grow and improve our practice. Look forward to learning more.

  3. Gregmercer601 says:

    I’ve also found that practice makes perfect. To learn new attitudes and interpersonal skills, thinking is nearly useless. ACTING does the trick: take risks, TRY things, embarrass yourself and figure it out it really isn’t that bad, it’s harmless really, even enjoyable if you learn how, and you CAN learn how if you try. Practice, practice, practice. A patient told me today that I worked a double yesterday. Nope, I said, just 8 hours. I’m just larger than life, you see… 😉 Chuckles all around! And it’s never come naturally, I grew up painfully shy, didn’t even start dating until I was in college, but I practiced, and over years, decades, you can learn just about anything if you persist.

    Keep up the good work, Beth. Shucks – keep up the GREAT work, OK?

    – Greg

    • Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

      You are right on about “Practice” Greg. In improv it is like practicing to be human with other humans! 🙂 I think psychologically safe opportunities for practice are a missing puzzle piece in healthcare’s efforts to ‘fix’ communication problems! Thanks for your ‘bigger than life’ feedback! 🙂

    • Donna Carol Maheady says:

      And wear your suit Greg!!!:)))

  4. Elizabeth Scala says:

    Loved having you on RNFRM Radio! What fun. And as always, practicing these skills is upbeat and a great way to learn. I love how I think about them in my day-to-day after talking with you. Keep up the great work.

    • Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth. That’s a powerful testimony about how the learning continues after the experience of improv. It’s true for me too. I’m in a Panera b/c my internet is down and just noticed this interaction between 2 employees involving a status difference. It made me sad to see how one employee used nonverbal language to diss another. I know that’s not about assertiveness, but it does speak to the learning. and the longterm rippling effect it can have as we go through our day.

    • Donna Carol Maheady says:

      Please let us know when it is live!

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