Chapter 8

Improvise

Things do not always go as planned. There is no escaping those moments of truth that we all face when the unexpected occurs. Ironically, these unpredictable and stressful moments are some of your best opportunities to dramatically increase your trustworthiness—provided you are adept at thinking on your feet and allowing your best self to shine through. This chapter explains the science behind a moment of truth. It also describes “thinking out loud” and “Yes, and … ,” two improvisational practices that improve your ability to be powerful and authentic in the moment.

Anyone in business has encountered numerous unexpected and tricky situations. Those uncomfortable, awkward moments seem to occur at the worst possible times.

Q: Faced with a moment of truth, what do you do?

A: Improvise.

Examples of the unexpected moments:

  • A prospective client asks you point blank, “What experience do you have in XYZ industry?” Even though you saw that question coming, you did not think it would be quite so direct. The honest answer is none—only you are afraid to say so because you think it would be a deal-breaker. How do you let them know about your other relevant experience that they will surely want to hear about before summarily dismissing you?
  • You thought the draft report you turned in yesterday was pretty good until you got an e-mail from your supervisor saying she is disappointed in the product and is seriously reconsidering your participation in the next and biggest ...

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