This one is for my fellow bulldozers. We know who we are: the take-charge-and-get-stuff-done personalities that tend to find ourselves with our foot in our mouth. Sometimes we speak up rightfully when something needs to be said… and other times we plow right overtop of quieter folks who can't get a word in edgewise.
In improv, it can definitely be good to have the more brave, assertive types on your team. An empty stage is a total buzz kill, and you can bet that if a bulldozer is on your team, that stage has someone on it!
Charna Halpern, one of the greatest improv teachers of all time, says in Truth in Comedy,that good improvisers are always looking out for what the show needs- not their own need to be seen or deemed to be important or funny. “In fact, it is just as important for the player to know when he is not needed on stage” she says.
Passionate doers often become leaders- at work, at home, in extra-curricular activities. That makes sense, and it’s not a bad thing… but if we want to be good leaders, if we want morethan just a nice sounding title on LinkedIn, we’d do well to notice when our scene partners are doing just fine without us. I’ve learned, believe it or not, that “different than my idea” and “failing & desperately needing my input” are not the same thing.
If you trust the people on your team, you have nothing to be afraid of! Let them "bring a brick" to the world you're creating together. If you don’t trust them, you need to find a new troupe. Neither the dozer or the dozees are happy in a no-trust situation, and you can be sure that you're not adequately disguising your mistrust as "help." Your teammates have noticed that you don't trust them, and it's most likely contributing to an anxious environment that's not fun or productive for anyone.
It's worth the hard work of learning not to bulldoze your team. Consciously remind yourself to hang back and listen. If you do trust your troupe- remind yourself of why. Apologize when you notice that you've crossed the line. Your team will notice and appreciate this change. Plus, NOT being “on stage” constantly could free you up for something awesome and important your company (or your life in general!) has been needing.