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How Going To Live Theater Makes You Professional At Work

How Going To Live Theater Makes You Professional At Work

If you and I were friends and I said to you, “Let’s go see a play,” your first reaction would probably be, “Bwahaha! Man, you’re a crackup!”

I get it. In the digital era, with movies on our phones and DVRs and Netflix, few of us can be bothered even to watch a TV show when the network wants us to. So the idea of driving to a theater, waiting in our seats until the curtain goes up… just to watch live actors standing in front of a hand-built set? No thanks.

But that’s too bad. Because as I learned attending maybe 100 such little plays in Los Angeles in my early 20s, going to these performances can teach you a great deal about how to be a professional. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned.

1. Perform at every job, at every task, every day, like a talent scout is watching.

What always amazed me as I sat in these 99-seat theaters was how much energy and dedication the actors put into their performances — even when there were only seven of us in the audience.

What’s even more incredible is that many of the actors in those plays were successful men and women you’d recognize from movies and television. Some were big enough that you’d know their names.

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So what was going on? Why would these folks work themselves to exhaustion — and acting live onstage in a two-hour play is exhausting work — night after night, at a tiny theater, if only a half-dozen people even bothered showing up?

Because that’s what you do when you’re an actor. You act. You act your butt off, every time you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity. And even the Hollywood actor who makes a good living in TV or film considers a chance to act onstage two hours a night to be an opportunity. It doesn’t matter how much they’re being paid (often nothing at a little theater) or the size of the audience.

That’s how we all should perform at work.

Yes, some parts of your job might be boring. Some parts might seem unimportant or even unnecessary. Doesn’t matter. Give your job everything you’ve got, every day, and treat it as the opportunity it is.

That sort of approach — which is far less common than you’d think — is what leads to more opportunities.

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2. Find something to love about your job.

Let’s go back to those successful Hollywood players I’d often see at these tiny theaters. I once saw a play written by Kevin Arkadie, the hugely successful TV producer who co-created New York Undercover, and who produced and wrote for NYPD Blue and The Shield, among many other credits.

When I walked into the lobby of that little theater with my uncle Alan (who always took me to these great plays), we saw Arkadie… sweeping the floor. Here was a guy worth many millions of dollars, putting on a play for what would likely be an audience of 30 people, and he was sweeping up beforehand. What’s up with that?

Did Kevin Arkadie have a secret passion for sweeping? Did the stars of his play (some well-known character actors with long Hollywood careers) enjoy showing up day after day for rehearsals, or driving through LA traffic every day to reach the theater? (On that last one, trust me, the answer is No!)

Even actors passionate about acting, and playwrights (like Kevin Arkadie) passionate about writing plays, don’t love everything about the theater. But they put up with the waiting and the rehearsals and the disappointments when a show falls through for whatever reason… and sweeping the floors before the show starts.

Why? Because they all love some part of the process. Arkadie loves sitting in the theater watching his play come to life. The actors love being onstage and performing for us (even all five of us).

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And you know something? There’s some part of what you do for a living that you can love too. Doesn’t matter what your job is — there’s something to love about it. Find it, cherish it, and — if you can — try to make it a bigger part of your job.

3. Remember, there are lots of talented people out there.

This last tip is more of a word of caution.

Something else that always amazed me attending live plays at little theaters was how good the actors were. I mean, they were phenomenal. At almost every show I saw, I’d come out of the theater saying to my uncle something like, “Those actors are as good as any Hollywood A-lister. How’s that possible?”

I never did figure it out. Given how difficult good acting is, how is it that you can find great acting almost any night of the week at almost any hole-in-the-wall theater in Los Angeles (and I suspect New York as well)?

What I do know is that, in an increasingly competitive world with more tools and resources and knowledge available to more people than ever, chances are your profession is experiencing its own little-theater trend. More people are in the game: studying, practicing, honing and mastering the same skills you’ve cultivated. So you’ve got to stay at the top of your game too.

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And maybe that’s part of the answer to why so many successful Hollywood actors show up at the smallest theaters, for no money, and act to exhaustion night after night for tiny audiences. They know there are many up-and-comers right behind them, sharpening their acting skills too. So even a proven actor has to stay just as sharp. They can’t afford to coast.

And neither can you.

Featured photo credit: An old side of the Chicago Theater [Featured as one of the most interesting photos taken with the Leica X1]/ChiILLeica via flickr.com

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robbie hyman

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Published on November 19, 2018

10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team

10 Ways to Build Positive Work Relationships and Work as a Team

Behind the corporate veil, the actual members who work towards achieving the company goals are the ultimate assets.

It is very important for every team member to maintain focused goals on a professional front, at their individual level and at the organizational level. With even the slightest discord between two employees, the entire team might suffer and have to adjust with the downsize in organizational success that they realize ultimately.

As humans, each and every employee is bound to have different opinion and feel inclined to meet their personal goals, just as much as they meet the goals of their company. Hence, it is essential that work relationships among different employees are friendly and cordial. This will help the fellow team members to work together as an efficient team. The ultimate outcome of which will be a capable work force, poised to gather the gains of organizational success.

Let us take a look at some of the ways to build positive work relationships and help employees work together as a team:

1. Respect Your Peer’s Time

No matter which specific domain you work in or in which your organization deals in, each arena entails performance of various jobs by the employees. Within this organization, there are a set of cumulative jobs which ought to be performed at a specific pace, and within a set period of time.

Sometimes, there might also be a sequence to the performance of actions and processes, so that the next process in the sequence can be performed. Some procedures are dependent upon the performance of an action by a certain member of the team, so that the other members can carry out the subsequent steps in the sequence. The ultimate target with this planning is that the work must be completed on time and there should be no delay in meeting the deadlines which have been set for the purpose.

Thus, in situations where you are placed in a role where other people are affected by your actions or performance, it is essential that you respect their time and effort, and ensure that the ball is not pent up in your court.

At the same time, remember that you should make yourself available for other people, should they require your help. Ultimately, your aim must be focused at ensuring that work is not pending and you get it done like experts doing the work.

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2. Ensure that You Are Cautious With Social Media

With the ongoing trend in the digital space, it is easy to feel compelled and drawn towards the idea of connecting with your peers and colleagues on the social media. Although there is not much harm in the practice, it is essential to observe caution while making these connections.

The simple reason behind this is that one wrong move can dampen your reputation or else, cause your peers to gather an incorrect impression about you.

It makes sense to ensure what the social media policy of your organization is before treading on this path. If such policies restrict the association of fellow employees, then you must respect them.

3. Communication is the Key

Communication is essentially one of the most vital keys which impact how your relationships with peers and other employees are. The role of effective communication cannot be stressed enough. It is vital in attaining the goals of working together in an organization and carrying out the jobs which will help in attaining success.

However, there is a very big danger with communication. As part of the human nature, it is easy to assume that the person ahead of us has understood what we intend to say. This might not be true at all times.

Therefore, taking feedback is important. This will help you understand if your message has been understood in the intended manner. If the message has not reached the intended party as expected, corrective actions can be taken at the same time.

Poor communication has the disadvantage of adding stress and distrust among fellow employees. It can sometimes causes crucial message failed to be delivered, leading to organizational turbulence, after which the blame game is hard to end.

In order to avoid the confusion and misunderstanding, communicate through a formal chain of command and follow formal mode of communication. Thus, communicating through mails or any other formal channel of communication would be the appropriate way to communicate in order to keep everything on record. This will help in referring to the communications later, should any dispute arise.

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4. Feedback is Important

As important as it is to take feedback from other people, it is also important to give your feedback. It is not just you who needs feedback but also your peers, in order to understand how well they are performing.

Your feedback will help other people progress in their work as much as it will help you progress in yours. Giving constructive feedback to your fellow peers at the right time and in the right state will help them advance, and ultimately lead to the success of the organization.

Your co-workers are bound to value your opinion and regard you in a positive light, if you provide them with the feedback that you require from them.

5. Make Use of Common Day Courtesies

Greeting a co-worker may sound like something so ordinary that you might wonder how it ended up on this list. However, as long as we are talking about ways to build a positive work environment, this one cannot be ignored.

You maybe surprised by bidding your co-workers simple common day courtesies! Being humble never hurt anyone, even if you do not exactly receive something in return.

Moreover, you must maintain eye contact with your fellow peers if you wish to gain their trust. This will provide the necessary infrastructure to build a capable team.

6. Get Into the Habit of Helping Yourself

While at work, accept that you are never going to receive the pampered behaviour which you do at home. No one at your workplace wakes up in the morning and makes themselves available at the  to hear you rant or constantly answer your questions. However, you might come up with situations nevertheless, which require you to ask for help or advice.

In this scenario, try to gather some information about your question, say, from the manuals which you receive upon joining, or from the web and equip yourself with some concrete information about the question which you may be ready to ask from someone else.

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At least when you approach someone with your doubts, along with the information gathered you’ve gathered, they will appreciate you for having made the effort to find out the answer.

This will make them feel important as well, answering your questions and helping you achieve your goals or tasks.

7. Treat Everyone as Equals

As a member of your team, it is not your job to point out who is better and who is not. Organizational politics can be a deadly game to play and as long as you are not a pro player, it is always risky to put yourself in a situation that will tarnish your image.

Gossiping is a strict no and spreading rumours is something you must avoid at all costs. Behave in a humble manner and even if someone tries to pull you into a conversation, avoid it in a respectful manner. Do everything you can to pull yourself out of that situation.

While talking behind people’s backs may sound like a refreshing fun activity initially, it will definitely come to bite you behind the back in the future.

Also, it will be wise to remember that no one in the organization is permanent. People change and so can their designation. It will be better for you to keep your personal views about someone in your head.

As long as you maintain the idea of treating everyone as equal, you will find yourself amidst a positive working environment at all times.

8. Acknowledge Your Mistakes

Mistakes happen and one of the more noteworthy facts about mistakes is that they can be made by anyone. The wisest thing you can do is to admit mistakes you’ve made.

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Playing the blame game will not only tarnish the name of your peers but also your own. It is always good to avoid getting into a tiff with others. Admit your mistakes and think of remedies or solutions to fix it. For a positive working relationship with your peers, you will need to adopt this quality.

9. Learn to Take on Responsibilities

Passing on your work load might be required when you are overburdened with work. However, when entrusted with a job, you should try to accept it as your responsibility and avoid putting it off to someone else.

Putting off work all the time will only end up creating a block between you and your peers, while they may start avoiding communicating with you at all. When you work in a team, your duty is to cooperate and build a positive working relationship with your teammates.

10. Engage in a Follow-up Routine

As a part of a team, it is necessary to express the fact that you care about your team members and you are also poised to achieve the targets set by your team.

Whenever you get the chance, do not hold back from asking your co-workers about your work performance and whether they think there’s anything you should improve.

Be prepared to be available to change and improve. This will go a long way in presenting yourself as a responsible and willing to learn employee.

The Bottom Line

These are just some of the ways in which fellow team members can build positive work relationships among themselves and work towards taking the organization to new heights. This attitude is  best to achieve overall success for the organization and create an environment of trust and honesty among the employees.

Featured photo credit: Mimi Thian via unsplash.com

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