If you are stressed at work, which is worse…your workload, or the people you work with? Or maybe you have both. Either way, a new trend is spreading in the field of workplace stress management. Companies are learning to deal with workplace conflict and problem solving through theatre.
No, this does not mean the boss takes everyone out for a night on the town. Nor does it mean those awful training sessions where employees are asked to “role play.” Instead corporate theatre workshops give both supervisors and employees a chance to act out a scripted role, which may deal with everything from how to handle office gossip to how to deal with unfair treatment from your boss.
From business scripts to famous scenes
There are several different methods of doing short theatre pieces as a way to resolve conflict, but all share the same basic goal. They allow management and staff to experience working through a situation similar to something stressful in their work environment, within the safety of make believe.
Led by professionals in the field, workshops might feature short scenes from famous plays or films, and allow different participants to try the same roles, and comment on how they felt, or how they might suggest a character change. They might even consider how the same words, in a different scenario, would have a far different emotional impact. For example, the famous line, “Show me the money,” from the film Jerry McGuire, might feel far more uncomfortable if spoken to a salesman by an unhappy boss.
Writing in The Daily Mail, India, Ashwin Ahmad describes how companies such as STEPS Drama, in the U.K. and India, bring specially written scripts of common business scenarios, and allow both supervisors and employees a chance to see their jobs from a broader perspective. They also allow business people the opportunity to prepare for stressful situations before they have the problems to face for real.
Writing your own play
One different way to use corporate theatre is for employees to write their own. Playwright Alex Broun conducts corporate theatre workshops to energize employees and teach them new ways to cooperate with each other. Theatre is all about collaboration, and Broun helps participants learn to trust each other and work together to create something they have never done before. By the end of the two day workshops, the group of co-workers perform a ten minute play they wrote themselves.
How can you bring this to your job?
If you have a boss who is open to new ideas, then a little research and a good chat might be all it takes to generate some excitement about doing a theatre workshop. Your Human Resources department might also be interested in adding corporate theatre to training they already offer.
Not all workshops need to be long. An hour or so a week, could tackle a different cause of workplace stress during each session, and also build communication among those who take part.
For more information, and an info-graphic showing how theatre might help relieve conflict and stress in your company, check out:
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