Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Role Play as the Ultimate Sales Training Tool

In any business organization, sales is the department that generates revenue. No matter how good your operation is, how cutting-edge your technology is or how forward-thinking your management techniques are, you must still have a sales mechanism in place, or everything else is useless.

Therefor one of the biggest challenges for organizations is helping their sales staff execute in the field what they've learned in theory in the training room. 

I learned this the hard way myself. 

When I was 22 years old I just started my first sales job as a Recruitment Consultant. A week earlier I finished up a 3 day in-house sales training course and that day I found myself across the table from the CEO of a Transport & Storage business. 

The conversation went like this:

Me: Thank you for the appointment. 

Client: Well, I'm not too happy with my current temp agency so I'm interested to learn how you can help me.

Me: Ok. Uhhm.. I guess I can start with telling you about our fees. We are known to have very competitive prices. (nervous laugh)  

Client: That won't be necessary. I don't care about the fees. I want to know how your service is better then your competitors.

Me: Our service? Well...It's really good... 

Client: (Sitting back and crossing his arms. Looking at me intensely.) Is it? And what exactly is really good about it? 

Me: I don't know exactly to be honest. You see...I just started this job two weeks ago... But all our clients seem very happy. (award silence) 

Needless to say this man didn't become a client. And I was absolutely gutted. What went wrong? I had just had a sales training 5 days ago!!

It wasn't until years later that I realized that it is easy to discuss sales techniques in a training workshop. But it is in the field, when the lights are the brightest and the pressure is on, that critical sales capabilities like asking the right questions, listening to the answer closely and being able to project confidence, conviction and interest must be demonstrated. 

Today I dare say that role play with professional actors is the ultimate sales training tool. Research shows that people learn up to 60% more (!) in a training workshop that simulates these real experiences. And Sales teams that continually engage in role playing are more likely to outperform their non-role-playing competitors. 

At InterACT WA, it is therefor our goal to make sure all our training participants receive a proper role play based sales training so they will almost never be presented with a question, concern or objection from a client that they haven't already received in their training. 

In other words: they will start the race running. 

They will come out of their training making more money for themselves and their company and they'll likely enjoy their job a lot more.

Is this difficult to achieve? 

Yes. Off course it is. 

Which is why people in the sales industry bemoan the idea of role play based sales training. But the challenge is worth it. And the results speak for themselves. And in a time of economic struggle and hardship businesses and sales professionals need every possible advantage. 

Role play, without a doubt, is that advantage. 

If only I had known at 22...

Want to know more about our corporate role players or simulation based sales training? 
Contact us here.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Storytelling in 3 simple steps

Read these three words:

Child. Rope. Rain. 

What happened in your mind when you read them? 

Did you see a child playing jump rope in the rain? 
Or did you see a child hiding outside, afraid to get a beating? 
Or perhaps something else...? 

Whatever you saw depends on your childhood, your personal nature and your current state of mind. But no matter what you saw, chances are extremely high that the beginning of a story was starting to form in your mind. 

In fact, you'd have to work really hard to NOT to create a story. That's because our brains are wired for stories. And not only that... We are constantly looking for coherence between bits of information. Nothing is just the way it is. Nothing is just: child, rope, rain. Everything is a story with meaning. Even when we sleep, our brains continue to fabricate the most amazing stories. 

The art of storytelling is very old and at the same time very new. More and more organisations start to understand the importance of embracing storytelling as a communication tool. Why? Because storytelling does something not many other things can do: it connects people at a deeper level. 

We all know great leaders are often great storytellers. They know how to change their message into a narrative and are able to truly connect with large groups of people. Their stories are engagement and teaching tools. And the best thing is: everyone can learn how to do this. 

Starting with these simple three 3 steps:

Step 1. Preparation, preparation, preparation

Some people seem to naturally master the art of storytelling. On every occasion they have a great, inspirational or funny story to tell. How do they do this? Writer Mark Twain once described it very strikingly: "A good improvised speech takes me about three weeks to prepare."

Storytellers have spent a lot of time building a 'database' of inspirational stories. Success stories, failures, challenges, team building stories, stories about love, friendship, sadness and consolation ... It takes time to prepare and think about these stories, but the reward is inspiring leadership.

Step 2. Live your story

The foundation of a good story is authenticity. A story does not need to be told, if it's true. If the storyteller does not include his audience in the story, because he's too busy recalling his next line and saying all the right words, he looses the connection. If he does not experience the story himself whilst sharing it, how can he ever expect his audience to connect with his message?

If the heart is connected, the structure becomes irrelevant. Rely on the power of your own story and give your audience the opportunity to imagine and understand it. 

Step 3. From conscious incompetence to unconscious competence

Storytelling is learning through living. If you want to develop your corporate storytelling skills you need to find the connection between your own story and the business of your work. By telling about the emotions of your own experiences, you can inspire, convince, comfort or reassure people. Practice linking these personal experiences to relevant topics within your organization.

In this storytelling learning process, you will go through the cycle of conscious incompetence to unconscious competence. Meaning: By 'doing it' over and over again, you will eventually make storytelling a second nature. At some point you will not even realize that you are telling a story. And neither will you listeners.

Want to learn more? 
Our 1 day storytelling workshop is the perfect step to enhance your storytelling competencies. This highly interactive workshop involves people in the content and enables them to play an active role in the story of your product, your service or your organisation. This workshop is provided by InterACT and Working Life Consultants. Contact us here for a quick quote.   

This is what our participants have to say: 

"The structure, open interaction and exercises are challenging and thoughtful - GREAT learnings!" 
David Izzard- SMS Rental

"This is a really interactive course providing a lot of learning by doing. Trainer and role play actor compliment each other really well."  
Rupen Kotecha - WA Leaders

"Thanks for the honest feedback. Great mix of interaction and theory." 
Marco Bense - Sandover Pinder

"I gained a great deal and this was truly out of my comfort zone..which is GOOD!" 
Heather Wallace - Nomad Creative

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Assessing Job Applicants using Actors

Nearly two third of major companies in Australia solely use psycho-metrics in the hiring process as an indicator or candidate competency. But more HR professionals and corporate recruiters are coming up with different ways to assess job applicants and get the best people on board. Using professional role play actors for role play interviews has recently been a famous choice to choose candidates in the field of Sales, Marketing, Management and Service. 

It turns out to be a quick, effective and revealing way of testing candidates on their suitability for a specific position. This is not only because the scenarios reflect common work situations, but also because it allows a candidate to demonstrate their ability to perform under pressure. 

While competencies may also be tested within a competency based interview, it is necessary that job applicants demonstrate them throughout the recruitment process, or you could suspect that they are merely saying that they have them, rather than actually possessing them. Knowing that the average cost of a bad hiring decision can equal 30% of the individuals first year potential earnings according to the Australian Department of Employment, you want to make sure you make the right decision.   

Role play actors are a great partner in business because they can truly test how candidates might approach difficult situations that frequently occur in the business world. Actors use their professional acting skills to create a reality that is as close to real life as it gets.   

How does it work? 

The interviewee will have several minutes to prepare for the role play simulation after being given a short brief of the scenario at hand, which will often mirror something that could occur in the job that they are applying for.

The professional role play actor will act the part of a member of the public, colleague or customer, whilst the interviewer will watch and take notes/assess. The situation will often involve some sort of controversy or conflict or dissatisfaction on the opposition's part, and require negotiating and reasoning as well as customer service or leadership skills from the interviewee.
Example scenarios might include:
  • Dealing with a customer complaint 
  • Handling an ineffective team member 
  • Selling a service or product  
  • Explaining or presenting something  
The role play actor will simulate several situations during the role play where the candidate is invited to demonstrate the competencies required for the job. The actor will make it difficult, but never impossible. 

After the exercise, the job candidate will typically be scored by the interviewer and by the actor who will give objective feedback in relation to the verbal, non verbal and paralinguistic communication. This feedback is often considered as incredibly valuable by the interviewee because they can use it to continue their own personal development.   

Would you like to know InterACT can help your organisation increase the chance of hiring the right candidate? Contact us here for a quick quote.  

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Special Offer!

For 3rd year in a row, our very popular 3x3x3 deal IS BACK!

Each year, from September till December, we offer 3 of our most popular communication workshops for 3 months only in an interesting package for an amazing 3 figure price.

We do this because we believe effective communication is the most important key to any business and we want to make our high impact programs accessible to ALL organizations in WA. Including the organisations with smaller training & development budgets.

Make excellent communication skills a priority in your organization and choose one (or more) of these training workshop packages currently on offer*

* COMMUNICATION 101 – Skills for giving feedback, dealing with different communication styles and overcoming resistance.
* EMPHATIC COMMUNICATION – Personal communication skills to build trust, reduce tension and understand / deal with emotions.
* CROSS CULTURAL COMMUNICATION –  Understand the core of cultural differences and learn how to communicate better with people from different cultures to your own.    

Each individual workshop package includes:

- A session to ensure training is integrated with your organizational goals & values.
- Online inventory – to help participants gain more from their workshop experience.
- A high impact, theatre based, 4 hour face to face workshop.
- Participant’s workbook with complete background information.
- Full evaluation & recommendations report.

Your special offer:

NOW $997 + GST per Workshop Package
(That’s only $99,70 per person with 10 participants!)

*This offer is valid from September 1st until December 1st 2017 / In Company only / Max 10 participants per workshop / Perth Region only / Bookings are subject to availability. 

Why InterACT WA?

An InterACT training workshop is not just a workshop. It’s an experience! InterACT WA specializes in bringing business theories to life by using theatre based learning methods. We provide roleplay actor-led training sessions where your employees can improve their communication skills by DOING. We let participants 'practice what we preach' by simulating a real experience so they can safely practice new behaviours and appreciate their actions’ impact, without risking client relationships or reputation in a non-judgmental learning environment. 

Interested in learning more or booking a workshop? 
Contact us here and we will be in touch within 24 hours. 

Thursday, 17 August 2017

How I Failed in Feedback...

Research is finally showing the link between free-flowing feedback and better business results. In workplaces where managers don’t give and receive feedback, employee engagement rates limp in at 29%. On the flip side, when feedback is regularly exchanged between managers and employees, engagement jumps to 79%.
But let’s face it, we’re human — and we find it tough to engage in feedback. Many of us —including myself — get defensive when we hear it, or we assume nobody wants to hear it. So feedback gets chronically buried and put off.
But it doesn’t have to. 
In my experience, there is a simple principle that can play a key role in unlocking feedback:
It’s not who you are, it’s what you do
As a communication trainer and role play actor, I assume that everyone wants to, and can, get better. When I take this approach I find myself able to engage in discussions about areas for improvement with an optimistic and open heart. But even though I always try to take this approach, my best intentions still sometimes fail me... I recently found myself linking feedback to someone's character, rather than focusing on their actions. 
Here’s what happened:
About four months ago, I told one of my clients, a manager of a business development team, that she came across as uninterested in her team members. Not engaged. Distant. 
As I should have predicted, she countered with defensiveness. She told me she loved managing her team and started listing examples. We were heading for a debate and when it came to knowing what was going on inside her head, she had the clear upper-hand. As we ended the short conversation, all I had achieved was a bigger wedge between me and my client. 
It wasn't until afterwards that I realized the feedback had been unspecific, second-hand, and judgmental. So I decided to practice what I preach.  
I watched her in action during one of the activities in the training workshop that day. And later I pulled her aside. I said: “I’ve found that when people are sharing their feelings with the rest of the team and someone is leaning back, arms folded, avoiding any eye contact to me that person looks like they’re not open or interested.”
She looked concerned, but not defensive. There was no argument to be had here. She didn’t want to debate what folded arms meant. What I was saying was not specific to her. This opened her to noticing a range of subtle ways in which she was appearing closed to her teammates, and we worked together over the next few training days to address them.
Today, 4 months later, she is far more in sync with her team. Once she received feedback about her behavior from a team member (rather than her personality), and she was able to discuss it openly. It was easy for her to take action because my feedback was specific, and closely timed to when the behavior occurred.
Takeaway: When people start saying that someone “is or isn’t something,” try to observe what that person is or isn’t doing. As close to the moment of observation as possible, present them with the behavior and offer to help them address it.
I’ve found that this lesson provides a powerful tool. But it’s the consistent practice — along with the commitment to learn more every day — that signals that the organisation is a place where feedback can flow freely. Those awkward feelings from being honest and holding each other accountable will start to disappear. And each of us will grow faster than many of us thought possible.

I count myself on the side of those trainers who believe ‘practice makes perfect' and that we as educators should never stop practicing what we preach. Even if we sometimes mess up ourselves, feedback can make our workplace a far better place to grow, learn, and thrive together.

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Power of Role Reversal

Our son Sam turned three years old last month. And let me tell you...his pretend play is firing on all cylinders! Construction sites, dinosaur battles, horsey rides and chasing the 'bad guys' - all walls of reality are broken in imaginary play as he loves to pretend to be something or someone different from himself.

I absolutely love the fact that our little toddler already knows that the success in life is largely pinned on the ability to positively interact with others and that the best way of learning this is by using different roles and then acting them out.

I believe that we don't have to be kids to learn through play. I believe that in adult learning the concepts of role play are still one of the most powerful and effective ways of learning and developing new skills.

For example: My son loves to switch roles in his pretend play. I have to play him and he get's to play me. During these role plays between me and my son, it is like I am looking in the mirror... Through his play I learn how he feels about the way I talk to him, what he retains from what I try to teach him and most important...he has the opportunity to express his needs in a safe way.

When I work with professionals in training workshops I often use the same concept. This method is called Role Reversal and it's a technique that is perhaps one of the most effective ones in Drama Based Training.

How does it work? 

In a Role Reversal, the participant is invited to move out of his own position and enact the role of the other person. There are three powerful effects of doing this. Let's take a Manager - Team member relationship as an example.

Effect no 1. 
Role Reversal will help the Manager to feel and understand the other role and how it reacts with its environment. For example the Manager gets more awareness about how the team member feels about and reacts to the role of the Manager.

Effect no 2. 
Role Reversal helps the Manager to observe himself as if in a mirror. Through playing his team members' role, the Manager sees the role of himself from his team members' perspective.

Effect no 3.
Role Reversal also prevents the Manager from being trapped in his own defenses. By changing positions with the team member he produces new insight of the whole interaction which helps to create understanding rather than being stuck in his own perspective.

Bringing in professional corporate actors to help facilitate exercises like this is absolutely crucial for the success of role play. Would you like to learn more about why? Have a look at our website here.

Finally, the famous Irish playwright critic George Bernard Shaw once said:

We don't stop playing because we grow old,
We grow old, because we stop playing. 

And I couldn't agree more.

Whether you are a toddler or an adult, (role) play gives an unique chance to learn from each other in an imaginary world. I look forward to meeting you there!

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

To the person ignoring my email

Dear email neglector
Last month I sent you an email. It took time and effort to write this message, but I didn’t get a response.
My first reaction was, You are just busy. After a few days, I wondered , Did you get my e-mail? A few days later, What did I do wrong? Then, invariably, What a jerk!
It seems like it’s becoming more and more “acceptable” to not respond to e-mails.  In the last month I sent out 20 personal emails and only 2 people replied. And trust me, I get it. You are busy. But that’s no excuse for bad behavior. You seem to forget that there is a human being on the other end who has feelings.
Maybe you think your neglect of my email isn’t hurting you...I hate to burst your bubble. This behavior could be more damaging than you realize. So keep reading: 
In one study, people who didn’t respond to an email, were evaluated more harshly, assigned more negative intentions and viewed as less credible than their responsive counterparts. Put simply, if you don’t respond, people won’t trust you. When they don’t trust you, they won’t respect you. And when they don’t respect you, they’ll never see you as credible. 
See, I understand there are reasons why you don’t respond. Maybe you had great intentions but failed in execution. Or maybe you were worried about saying no. Or you simply felt unmotivated. But there is no explanation for it: email silence harms you and your business.
Let me tell you a story about a CEO of WA based organisation. Perhaps you will understand my point a bit better. Three years ago, I had just started my own business here in Perth. I decided to send this man a message that took me at least half an hour to put together. You see, English is not my first language and I wanted to make a good first impression. He replied to me on the same day: “Got your email, Janine. I’m tied up this week but will reply as soon as I can”. He bought himself goodwill and time by acknowledging my message. 
A week later I received his definite answer: “Janine, thank you so much for your request. I appreciate your interest in working with our organisation. I am sorry that I can’t help you at the moment. We are happy with our current training providers. I wish you all the best with your new business!”
And guess what? I wasn’t even disappointed. 
Because I can handle rejection. I just can’t handle not knowing.
Last year I met him at a seminar and I decided to tell him how I remembered and appreciated the way he handled my email many years ago. He told me that it's the way he grew his business. He found that when you're reliable, even if you’re not always right, people will want to work with you and for you. No matter if you’re flipping burgers or you’re the CEO.
I have been recommending him and his business to my network ever since.      
So dear email neglector, will you join me in the revolution of responsiveness? Let’s make this world a better, more civil place, one email at a time. What do you say?
Kind regards,
Janine de Muinck - Managing Director at InterACT WA.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The trouble with training

It’s more important for success than technology, strategy, and even products. The only way for your organisation to survive and thrive in the long run is the ability to keep developing your staff. 

Having spent the last ten years designing and delivering interpersonal skills training and leadership development programs for dozens of companies in both Europe and Western Australia, I’ve seen a lot of what works. And what doesn’t.

I believe it is time for some new rules to make training more productive than problematic. 
Starting with these 3 hard-and-fast rules:  

Rule 1: 70-20-10
Have you ever sat in a classroom all day for a training program, wondering “how much longer??” Of all the things we do to educate, the least valuable of all are the endless hours we force people to sit still and … “learn”. The 70-20-10 rule suggests learning from challenging assignments like role play simulations should account for 70% of training time, with 20% from peer-to-peer learning and just 10% from traditional coursework. A great training program integrates all three. 

Rule 2: Eat your own cooking
I find it fascinating when I get asked to roll out a leadership development program to managers without the participation of senior executives. There is no replacement for them being involved as teachers, facilitators and coaches. And maybe even more important, if the CEO thinks it’s wise for middle managers to learn about, say, soft skills, why is the top management team not doing the same or similar? Not only does participation enhance the credibility, but it also helps share a common logic and language.

Rule 3: Customise to your world
Business schools and training organisations love to sell stuff off the shelf. It’s easier, it’s proven, it’s faster. But what works in the mining industry in Perth is not necessarily right in financial services in Sydney. Just like the best managers customise how they manage people on their teams, the same is true about the specific experience and content needed to train a group of individuals. How could it not be? One size most definitely does not fit all.

Nowadays vast amounts of money — into the tens of billions — are spent on training every year, but the return on investment in many cases doesn’t ad up. So make sure you don’t give the green light for yet another round, magically hoping that results will materialise while not doing anything different. 

Curious about how our Experiential Learning Solutions? Contact us here for a chat.  

Monday, 1 May 2017

3 Benefits of making role play part of training

Benefits of Role-Play
Here are just a few of the benefits of making role-play a part of your business training:

  1. 1. It builds confidence: When your team role-plays, you can throw any number of situations at them. Role-playing provides a safe environment to encounter these scenarios for the first time, which builds confidence in team members that can help them in their day-to-day roles.
  2. 2. It develops great listening skills: Good role-playing requires good listening skills. In addition to understanding the words the other person is saying, it’s important to pay attention to body language and non-verbal clues. Better to have your team develop these skills while role-playing than when they’re trying to perform in the real world.
  3. 3. Creative problem-solving: No matter how outlandish a situation you create in a controlled environment, generally, something even more bizarre is bound to happen on the job. Role-playing will at least give your team the chance to get some experience in handling difficult situations and in developing creative problem-solving skills.

How to Start Role-Playing
While most organizations prefer to hire a professional facilitator for the most effective role-play, here are a few tips for doing it yourself:
  • Use actual locations: The best role-play is as realistic as possible. Put participants in the physical locations where they actually would experience the scenarios you’re trying to replicate, whether that’s the boardroom, the warehouse, or an executive’s office.
  • Videotape your role-play: Videotaping the participants in role-playing scenarios is a valuable teaching tool. It allows people to see themselves—and their strengths and weaknesses, which can be quite powerful. It also allows them (and you) to “record” improvement as they progress.
  • Imitate real-world scenarios: This is perhaps one of the easiest forms of role-play training to execute yourself. Give the “customers” or “clients” a personality profile and list of objectives that the trainee doesn’t know about. Make the goal to determine the “customer’s” objectives.

Getting an authentic role-play experience from your team may be difficult to do on your own. Bring in consultants and professional actors to get the training your team deserves. At InterACT we design and deliver experiential learning solutions that use the power of role play to help people interACT even better. Contact us here and we are happy to tell you more.  

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Is (s)he the right one?

Experiential learning is hot. More and more organisations are looking for ways to make their business theories 'come to life' and create a higher transfer of learning. It looks like using simulations and role play actors is the way to go. L&D and Corporate Actors have undeniably tied the knot. 

But there are two types of corporate actors in the world: Those who come into the training room and say, "Here I am!" and those who come into the room and say to the learners, "Ah, there you are!" 

The true meaning of a corporate actor, in my opinion, is to be an all round facilitator of the learning process more than a presenter or an entertainer. 
I find that many corporate actors tend to fall into the second category. And I can't blame them. Performing Arts Academies prepare you for many things: theatre, film, perhaps television. But because they are still very much focused on entertainment and there is a huge difference between being an amazing actor and being an amazing CORPORATE actor. 

Which, I have to tell you, has me worried... 

Because even though the industry for corporate acting is growing fast, most Performing Arts Academies have yet to include role play acting in their curriculum.   

This can make it challenging for Trainers, Facilitators and L&D Professionals to judge the quality of the actors. Considering that the mere prospect alone of participating in a role play still drives fear into the psyches of many, it is imperative that you undertake this endeavor with a professional. 

Therefore, InterACT WA recently started running workshops exclusively for Professional Actors to get them educated on professional Role play acting. Also we drafted industry standards to help make it easier to find the right choice of role play actor for your organisation.

These criteria are:

-          Finished degree in Performing Arts
-          Realistic and conducive play
-          Ability to improvise
-          Positive attitude in the group
-          Being able to give dosed feedback related to the learning goals
-          Being able to adapt the level of challenge to match participants skill level
-          Confronting in a caring way
-          Working together with the trainer as well as independently
-          Knowledge of behaviour models, emotional intelligence, personality styles,                  communication and coaching tools.
-          Being able to offer a safe, non judgmental, learning environment

    Hopefully this will is helpful in the search of your corporate actors. Should you wish to work with one of our professionals than you are guaranteed that they meet these requirements.  

Would you like to know how InterACT can help improve interACTions within your organisation with our training workshops and corporate actors? Feel free to contact me on 

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Practice Repeat Learn

I saw this image today and I love it. Here’s why.

With InterACT WA, I run a consultancy based on practice. When I am not delivering training workshops, I focus on my sales. And every time I try to lock in a meeting with a potential client, I have to remind myself of the number of times I have to contact someone on average before it leads to work. I can tell you that answer: It’s 6. 
But the beauty is not in that number. The beauty lives in what happens in the process: because I have to keep trying.

It is what I make people do in my training workshops, so it is also what I have to do myself. A little thing called "Practice what you preach". 😏

Maybe you are trying to communicate more assertively. Or perhaps you struggle with giving feedback to your team. Or getting through that presentation without talking too fast. Whatever it is: When it’s important to you, you don't stop after the very first attempt.

In my training workshops I give participants the opportunity to practice different approaches in a safe, non judgmental learning environment. They try a different message. A new way. A change of body language. And they practice it. It may take 6 times. It may take 100. But when they finally succeed, they’ll know exactly what it looked like and how it sounded.

So as I am about to pick up the phone to make call number 4 to that potential new client, I am thinking of all the amazing people that have participated in one of my workshops and who tried and tried and tried.

I think of Sly Stallone. He wasn’t going to stop trying until his Rocky script was sold with him as the main character. It took 1500 tries! Practice matters. All the good ones do it.

How many times will you try?

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Feeling on Command

I recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of HR Managers about the advantages of using corporate actors in Training and Development. I was pleasantly surprised when one of the attendees asked me what we can learn from actors when it comes to managing our emotions.

It is a beautiful question.

Because corporate actors, also known as role play actors, do not only have their own emotions that are constantly present, they also have to manage the feelings of the roles they play in the different simulations. Their job and their art is to convincingly act out and manage all these feelings AND connect to the emotions of the participants on top of that.

While the rest of us just have to master our own feelings so they don't get in the way of life, corporate actors need to manage their emotions so exceptionally well that they are able to "feel on command" during training workshops.

So yes.
I believe there is a thing or two you can learn from role play actors when it comes to managing our emotions.

Let me share my personal experience:

For me, in order to truly bring across emotions in a role play scenario, I have to actually FEEL them. And that can be quite a challenge and took me a lot of practice. Because if I am feeling joyful, how do I all of a sudden switch my feeling to one of sadness? Or when I am feeling goofy and playful and I need to act angry?

The magic answer is: I work with my thoughts.

I have a set of thoughts and memories that I know will reliably bring me to feel a certain way. These thoughts are very private and personal and the art for me to know is what thoughts trigger which feelings and to be able to access these thoughts at any given moment.

What we can learn from this is that is shows how much power our actually thoughts have.

For example: Just by thinking about that nasty break up my entire body language changes. My tone of voice changes instantly to anger and I start to feel frustrated.

Luckily this method can work both ways. Because if I can bring about thoughts that create 'negative' feelings I need for my role play acting, it also means I can choose thoughts that create 'positive' feelings. Meaning I am managing my emotions.

And so can you. I mean, just try and think of something extremely funny and feel miserable at the same time... Impossible.

Now, I know this sounds easy but in reality it often proves to be a lot more difficult.
Much like with any new skill: you will need a lot of practice to make it perfect. But it is definitely worth a try.

So perhaps use your inner actor more often these coming weeks and taking control over your thoughts. Before your emotions take over you.

Janine de Muinck is founder and director of InterACT WA, a high performance consultancy specializing in creative, experiential training solutions. She is also a professional actor en trainer. She can be contacted at

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Challenging conversations

When pregnant of our second baby boy early 2015, the midwife at our local hospital detected an ectopic heartbeat during one of the antenatal visits. I was put on a fetal heart monitor immediately and was scheduled in for an advanced ultrasound later that day.

I remember it vividly: I entered the room to have the ultrasound and I could hardly hold back the tears. Fear was raging through my body and the only thought on my mind was: "What if there is something wrong with our baby?"

The specialist carrying out the ultrasound turned out to be an absolute expert in his profession. "One of the best" his lovely assistant whispered in my ear right before he got started. But he also turned out to be completely incapable of dealing with all my big emotions. When I started to cry he avoided any eye contact and kept looking at his screen. He ignored my tears and mumbled that I had to try and lie still whilst moving the transducer around over my belly. After a few minutes he started rambling about how the fetal arrhythmia included tachycardia, which he thought was supra-ventricular...

It turned out that meant our little boy was fine.

But what would have happened if this man was the one that had to bring me bad news about our baby? And had to deal with my feelings of intense sadness or anger?

As I've experienced first hand, but even more so in my day to day work as a corporate actor, it demonstrates that professionals working in Health Care have great knowledge but can sometimes lack an extremely important clinical competency: Emphatic Communication.

Communication with patients in today's healthcare is increasingly complex and more important than ever. Whether focused on disclosure of medical error, prenatal diagnoses or ethical quandaries arising from the ability to sustain life: today's Healthcare professionals face difficult conversations more and more as part of their day to day patient care.

Therefor I am thrilled to see that more and more Health Care Organisations and Medical Schools are working with role play actors to simulate patients and family members in training workshops. Because actors, also known as 'simulated patients', allow caregivers to EXPERIENCE these difficult situations as real life as it can get. In the debriefing the role play actors help the participants reflect on and understand what truly happened in a conversation. Without risking relationships or reputation.

This way of experiential learning prepares caregivers for the sometimes tough reality. And it is a development that will be highly appreciated by all patients.

Including myself ;)

PS. In a recent survey conducted by InterACT WA nearly all participants have described our actors' portrayal as realistic. 97% of participants reported that the actor was valuable to the learning process and 95% felt role play with other colleagues would not have been as educationally valuable. Would you like to know how we can help your organisation with role play simulation? Contact me here for a chat.