A Peak Inside My Classroom: #Blog4biz Day 20

“Alright, for this next section I need 9 volunteers” I say.

The 40 eyes in the room make contact with everything in the room except me. The participants busy themselves flipping through their training manual. They pretend to review the material thus far. I laugh internally and wait. I have grown used to this. Most people aren’t quick to volunteer but I know this is the “fun-est” part of the training (according to evaluations that is).  They are about to have the biggest laugh and the biggest “ah ha” thus far. So I wait. I never have to wait long until the awkward silence births the boldness in some brave soul. 

“I’ll do it!” shouts a deep voice from the back of the room. 

“Eddie! Thank you for being our first volunteer” I say. “ Let’s give him the efficient clap. One-two- three….” Then the room explodes like a single clap of thunder. 

The efficient clap is a technique I use in a training session to encourage and reward. In adult learners, it is important to create a safe learning environment and important to put them in charge of their own learning. The efficient clap does both. On the count of three everyone claps once. This technique gives everyone the same reward regardless of outcome. It also can be initiated by anyone in the group. Peers can encourage peers with a simple one ..two. three.

Eddie has made his way down front. 

“Eddie, for being the bravest soul I will reward you with the simplest yet longest lasting part in our role play. You only have one line…buuuut”, I emphasize, “you have to say that line 8 different times to 8 different people. Easy enough?”

“No problem,” Eddie agrees. The levity of the situation is already taking its toll and his eyes are telling me he is excited.

“Great. Ok Eddie, you have a toothache. You are going to be visited by 8 “friends”. They will come up to you and say ’Hi Eddie, how are you today?’. Then you will say ‘Not so good. I think I have a toothache.’ Then 8 different “friends” will speak to you from their cue cards. “

Eddie is comfortable in his role. The other participants are looking on with curiosity. What in the world is about to happen? 

I turn back to my class. “I need 8 volunteers to come visit Eddie about his toothache.” This time I don’t have to use the silence to squeeze out more volunteers. I pass out the costumes and corresponding short scripts. 

The activity goes off without a hitch. The participants chuckle at their peers in costumes. Men in old lady chignons and glasses. Women in grim reaper costumes. Bosses in Sherlock Holmes detective gear. After Eddie is visited by his friends, we spend the next few minutes debriefing the nuggets of wisdom gleaned from that activity. While wading in the pool of epiphany comments like:
 “Wow, that is so me!” 

“Oh my goodness, do I really do that?”

“And wow, no wonder she doesn’t come to me.”

splash up like Las Vegas water fountains dancing in the sunshine. For many of the participants, this is the first time they come face to face with very specific ways they are unknowingly hindering communication flow between themselves and others. 

Today’s #Blog4Biz challenge asks what tasks do we love doing. The above is a scene that describes a very popular training session I do. After we establish some ground rules, outline our objectives, we get into the activity based skill building portion of the session. It is during the debriefing, after I get the participants comfortable and even laughing that they can begin to make the connection that perhaps the ways they habitually communicate is not as efficient as they thought. For those who don’t care whether they are or are not good communicators, they begin to see the benefits of improvement.

These are the tasks that I love. 

It is the reason I started BRAVE in the first place. I wanted to introduce caring, empathetic, communication tools that work to a cynical, callous, often jaded world. A new toolkit of communication that is based in respect AND that produces results is a win for everybody.

We see so many images of people belittling and berating people. We encourage the ratchet. We feed off of the gossip. The more outlandish the better. The more over the top the better. It makes for good television. But it makes for complicated destructive day to day reality in companies across the country. Instead of thriving, people are barely surviving under the distrustful, micromanaging, verbally abusive work culture. If you are a horrible boss or employee you are you competitors biggest asset. 

Any task that has me training, coaching, or speaking about being BRAVE enough to initiate a better way to communicate is a task I love most deeply. 

What do you love to do?
Word count 817

The Living BRAVE blog re-launches on Aug 1, 2013. During July, however, I accepted the #Blog4Biz daily business blogging challenge. This post is a part of that challenge. If you want to join the challenge, click here.

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