10 Mar Roleplay Encounters

By Anthony Richards

Roleplay is a dynamic, flexible and powerful tool. It facilitates and supports experiential learning which has long lasting effect.  So what’s on offer and how can we set up a roleplay encounter?

There are a number of ways of setting up the encounter, at one end of a range is asking delegates to enter into a carefully researched immersive scenario based in their workplace reality. This has the advantage of allowing delegates to feel on familiar ground when they then meet someone to play with.

Another method is to set the conversation in a parallel universe – you may be a fireman practicing command and control skills in a crisis, but we set the role-play in the context of you managing a leisure centre, so that the skills in question are being focused on not the individual’s knowledge of a context.

A third method is to ask delegates to create a tailor-made encounter which they would like to challenge themselves with.  Eg, “I’d like to practice this difficult conversation I need to have with X”. These bespoke role-play encounters, where the delegate controls the subject can be tremendously useful for practising dealing with the most feared types of people or subjects, and can often be used to rehearse an impending situation that represents challenge for the learner.

Forum theatre is a situation wherein some scripted action is played out between two or more actors to illustrate a point.  Learners get to observe, comment and revise the behaviour of the actors to achieve a different outcome.  Sometimes they can get so passionate they step in to show how it ‘should’ be done.

The content of these encounters depends on what is deemed necessary to be learnt.  We may be looking at an aspect of effective performance, such as Delegation Skills or giving Performance Feedback, or more generally at effective Influencing.   Leadership Development is as much about relating to people as it is developing strategic planning skills.  Leaders deliver their results through successfully motivating and empowering people, empathising and clarifying, visioning and questioning.   Communication skill development through practice is at the heart of what goes on.

Professional role-play actors can present specific challenges for delegates to develop their skills with.  They can adjust behaviour to create a useful challenge identified from the theoretical content of a model or concept, (such as a model of delegation), from a defined competency (eg to be ‘a skilful negotiator’), or from a delegate’s personal psychometric report/360 analysis, to make the learning specific.  Professional role-play actors are familiar with many training tools, and can give feedback in the context of them.

Action can be paused to allow for peer consultation, feedback, or to recognise and celebrate success. It’s also possible to mind-tap the other person in the conversation to discover how an interaction has landed with them.  A luxury that real-life doesn’t afford.  Actors will always give real and developmental feedback, and as both they and the learner were in the role-play together; the actor’s response carries credibility and insightful value. top tourist destinations Premfemenaru

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