What would be a good course that I can take with my cofounder that will allow us to improve our communication skills, strengthen our relationship (which already is awesome), and give us some outside of work experiences that can help us brainstorm?
Answer by Scott Koon:
Have you considered a theater improvisation class?
While most people associate improvisation with shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” You don’t have to be funny, and you don’t have to be an actor to benefit.
Improvisation training will teach you to listen and focus on what is happening around you. It will teach you to accept thoughts and ideas offered by others, and build upon them. It will strengthen your collaboration skills. It will allow you to practice dealing with surprises, and make you feel much more comfortable about speaking in front of others. Finally, it will give you an opportunity to be creative in a very supportive environment.
Best of all, it can be a lot of fun. I have thoroughly enjoyed every opportunity I have had to sharpen my improvisation skills. The first sessions were a bit nerve-wracking. I expected to be in a class full of actors who were sharpening their skills for “Second City” or other comedy troupes. In reality, most of my fellow students were professionals looking for ways to improve their communication skills or ways to stretch their creativity. After several classes I am nowhere near ready to work with Drew Carey, Ryan Stiles, Wayne Brady, or Colin Mochrie. However, I am constantly amazed by how useful these skills have become in my work and personal life.
To find a class near you, look for comedy clubs or local universities with theater programs. Some groups with national/international reputations are “Second City” and “Brave New Workshop”. Both have excellent programs that include opportunities for training even if you don’t live in Chicago, Minneapolis, or Toronto.