Role-plays that work

To get better, people need to practice

Are you in the business of helping people develop some particular people skills, interpersonal communication skills or assertiveness skills? Well if so, you’ll need an activity or ‘teaching strategy’ where they can practice their skills and more importantly, improve them. And the activity that usually comes to mind for this are role-plays – or more specifically, traditional role-plays.

In traditional role-plays the participants are given, or devise, a scenario depicting a situation they might have to handle in real life – like those above. The participants then act out the scenario by taking turns playing the various characters in it. They usually do this in small groups with the teacher going from group to group to see how they’re going. In some cases, the groups also act out the scenario in front of the whole group.

Traditional role-plays aren’t realistic 

Unfortunately, traditional role-plays can’t do the job we want. They have some problems; in fact, six major ones. And they’re serious. So serious that traditional role-plays are often of little value and, in some cases, perhaps none at all.

Of course, not every traditional role-play will have every one of them. However, most traditional role-plays suffer from enough of them to defeat the purpose of running the role-plays in the first place. And just in case you’re wondering, the problems are not due to poor teaching. They’re to do with the very nature of traditional role-plays themselves. 

Many teachers, trainers and other educators – and of course plenty of participants – know traditional role-plays aren’t up to the job. But the question on their lips is: what to do instead?

It’s Real Life Rehearsals to the rescue

The problems with traditional role-plays make them of little or no value. But it puts us in a bit of a bind. We still need to help students practise handling the difficult situations they will inevitably encounter in the real world. So what can we do?

Fortunately there’s a solution and it’s called Real Life Rehearsals. Its purpose is the same as traditional role-plays but this is where the similarity ends. Real Life Rehearsals avoids the problems of traditional role-plays. And it has three important parts which traditional role-pays lack. The three parts are:

  1. Real Life Scenarios™.
  2. The Agent Provocateur Obstacle Course™; and
  3. Agent Provocateur Role-Plays®.

Real Life Rehearsals® can be used to teach any social communication skill you like

Real Life Rehearsals helps people develop a set of realistic and personalised strategies for dealing with a specific difficult conversation, situation or person. It actively involves participants in developing a repertoire of strategies — ones that are realistic and fit their needs. The strategies are then ‘mentally road-tested’. And then participants personalise their preferred strategies. And of course, it them helps them develop their communication skills in a simulated real-world environment. 

Real Life Rehearsals has have been tried and tested

Mark has used advanced role-play techniques for close o 40 years. He’s used them with a wide variety of groups and a wide variety of topics. Mark has used them, for example, with:

  • Primary/Elementary school children (how to tell someone that their behaviour is unacceptable);
  • Secondary/High school students (how to say no to a drink yet maintain prestige among friends and peers, how to refuse a lift with a drunk driver and how to handle a gruelling job interview);
  • College students (how to handle a ‘shout’, ’round’ and other group drinking situations and how to negotiate safe sex);
  • Managers (how to handle and deliver a performance review and how to handle a difficult staff member); 
  • Police (how to handle intoxicated people); and
  • Staff from professional organisations and from the government, private and welfare sector (how to handle difficult customers; and how to gain cooperation from an annoying co-worker).


Download Mark’s FREE resource: Why teachers should give traditional role-plays the boot and use Real Life rehearsals instead.

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