This is a workshop for people who want to get better at life’s difficult conversations
The ones where there’s something at stake for us, something that we want. But where another human being is, ahem, in our way. We often devote a lot of energy to avoiding having them. We spend a lot of time in our head, or complaining out loud to our friends, about the difficult character of the person we would like to engage with but can’t.
Lots of courses are run on “dealing with difficult people" for this reason. These tend to be quite long on analysis and full of very intelligent sounding principles and frameworks. The trouble is that these courses idealise how we should hold our conversations. We think this can be disempowering… few of us can really live up to these ideals and the effort to do so can either leave us feeling we have failed, or leave us in a space of restrained politeness where we’re just repressing our more animal selves, albeit more skilfully than before.
We think the clue is in the title. Difficult conversations are difficult. We don’t help ourselves by attempting to make them easy by mental effort… in fact that often just makes the psychological rut deeper.
And since difficult conversations have high stakes, we don’t normally get many shots at having them.
In this workshop, we’ll use a very specific type of role play where participants can experiment with different ways to have the conversation. With a big emphasis on playfully trying stuff out, and without putting too much effort into analysing or idealising. We think of it as the rapid prototyping of behaviour. It brings some of the wisdom of the maker and agile movements to the training sphere.
Johnnie has developed this work over many years work as a coach and facilitator, in places as far afield as The Solomon Islands and San Francisco. He draws on all sorts of ideas and practices that have shaped how he works; things like gestalt psychotherapy, psychodrama, improv theatre and forum theatre, and the work of Tim Gallwey (the Inner Game). Antony brings to bear his background in language, communication, counselling and theatre, and his work as a user experience designer to support the rapid iteration of ideas.
We see difficult conversations as an opportunity to experiment and uncover bits of ourselves that we don’t always deploy. It’s a process of discovery and it can be so much more energising and exciting than attempting to follow a set of rules.
This is the first time we’ve offered this work in Cambridge. We are limiting the group to six particpants (plus ourselves) which we feel will make for a deeper personal experience. We think you’ll gain a better understanding of a more productive way to experiment with your difficult conversations.
Thursday 19 December 2013 09:00 - 13:00 at Cambridge Union Society