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 www.interactwa.com.au

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.