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July 26, 2021 at 6:13 pm #7911Mark DonovanParticipant
I want in this message (and in one to follow) to share some ideas and approaches for your SER preparation that might be helpful and that we may not be able to get to in class. I’ve personally found them useful, as have many students in past classes I’ve taught. I’ll also post this message to the course Forum. Reading this material is not necessary for course success.
You already know that the “How to Role-play and Prep tips” document is your key resource in preparing for both Skilled and Unskilled role-plays in the SER. Be sure to review the document carefully and follow all the guidelines. As you’ve experienced in class, it’s super important that you be very well prepared when playing Unskilled so the Skilled person has your emotions to work with and your backstories and especially interests to uncover. For your Skilled prep you should definitely use the “Preparing for a Difficult Conversation Worksheet”. Fill in the categories of the worksheet as comprehensively and with as much detail as you can. All the energy and time you put into preparation will pay off in the SER! It will help you be poised, calm and resourceful.
The SER, of course, is a kind of evaluation and I want to address some of the psychological aspects of that. For many people the experience of being evaluated can feel threatening. This sense of threat can cause unpleasant stress and often a kind of freeze up, distracting them from the work at hand and making them less skillful than they’d otherwise be. If this is a concern for you, here are some ideas.
As we’ll touch on in Session 11, freezing, along with fight, flight, and tend-and-befriend, are classic responses to threat. Although pretty natural these responses are not particularly skillful and they don’t feel very good.
Fortunately, it’s very possible to reframe what you’re feeling. One way to do that is to question yourself just as you would another person, to understand what is the threatened INTEREST that provokes the unhelpful reaction in yourself? Now here I’m just offering one way this kind of inquiry could go, and your investigation of yourself could pull up a different interest(s). I am encouraging you to try it yourself.
Here is what I found in myself when I was learning this material and similarly ‘freezing’ or tensing up in role-plays. When I probed myself I discovered that I was AFRAID (Fear, a PEACH BVFN) of not doing well, of failing, in some sense. How come? Because I strongly HOPED ( a PEACH BVFN) to be so skilled with managing conflict that I could become a mediator, to help people. So my Interests were skilfulness and helpfulness. THAT was the reframe.
With that reframe, my attention was no longer on myself, but on that moment-to-moment quest to meet those interests, skilfulness and helpfulness. It gave me a beneficial present- and future focus.
Focusing on these interests, my internal monologue shifted from a confused and self-conscious “O god I’m doing it wrong, what the heck am I doing, I feel so stressed and at sea…etc., etc.” to a focused and other-conscious, “What does this person I’m talking to need RIGHT NOW? How can I help them be heard and understood? —Which then led to my deployment of an appropriate skill, whether of Active Listening or Assertive Speaking.
For me, putting the focus on the other party was revolutionary. As long my attention was on them, it could not be on my previously paralyzing self-consciousness! Such a shift to interests instead of fears can change everything in a moment. And it is fantastic practice in the work we’re doing anyway in this style of ADR! We always want you to be thinking in terms of interests and the more you do, the more you see the power of that approach.
Another and simpler technique is to recognize that nervousness and excitement are physiologically very similar and basically feel identical. How we conceptualize that feeling is very important. We can REFRAME what we’re feeling. Some call this “flipping the script”. The difference is “Gosh, I’m so nervous!” vs. “Wow! I’m so excited!”
In terms of your SER role-play, the new internal ‘script’ could be “WOW! I’m so excited! Here’s another chance to practice these new skills and meet my interests of _____ and ____. What a wonderful opportunity!”
There are a number of YouTube presentations of this idea and here is one:
I wish to point out that one could use both of these techniques at the same time: I certainly do.
I hope this has been helpful. I will follow up shortly with some tips on self-talk, also a topic in your reading for Session 11. For now, my last word is: Practice makes the master. Keep practicing, in life, in this course, and beyond, and you are bound to be successful.
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