I was driving down the road, and my brother called me. He had to make a significant sales call for that day. It was going to be a difficult conversation with a critical customer. I asked him how he thought the conversation was going to go. We started gaming out the responses; what could they say? What would he say? Also, what are the points that he wanted to make? We started posing questions. Then I pretended to be the customer. I played a bad customer interaction, and then I played a good customer interaction. At the end of the conversation, my brother felt more prepared and could think about his answers.
Roleplay sounds like a different context than sales. However, role-playing can lead to a lot of success.
How many times have we had a conversation and thought back and said oh, I wish I would have said that or made that point? Roleplaying helps diminish regrets that you might have. I always like to roleplay a conversation in my head. Talk out loud in the car or in your office. It is important to say the conversation out loud. If you verbalize your responses or the questions you think you will be asked, it helps you hear what you are saying. I think an even more successful version of roleplaying is gameplay with a pair, a friend, or a family member. The important thing is that you roleplay with someone who knows your business and understands your strengths and weakness. The roleplaying session should be an opportunity for someone to challenge you.
Roleplaying can help with anxiety. As shared in a blog post a couple of weeks ago, you need to swallow your frog. Gaming out the conversation in your head or with a partner will help alleviate that anxiety. If you roleplay you in your head or with someone else start with your worst instincts and make the conversation as uncomfortable as possible. If you can tell yourself that I just went through the worst it could be, that will help you feel better about making that call or visit.
Finally, roleplaying makes you a better teammate. Part of sincere sales or sincere leadership is being an advocate for others. If you help others in this task, they will reciprocate.
Roleplaying also works with tough conversations with your constituents. Mapping out a conversation with an employee and practicing what you will say and respond is essential to any crucial conversation you will have with someone who works for you. There are almost more consequences with your constituents than with a customer. Your credibility and how you react are so important. Roleplaying also allows you to work through the emotion of a conversation. If an exchange will upset you or heighten your senses, roleplaying enables you to get the emotion out of the conversation. We all feel better after getting things off our chest, and we also sometimes regret that we have let emotion get in the way of a productive conversation. Talking out loud and roleplaying allows you to experience emotion in a safe place.
I want to challenge you to role-play a conversation with a college. Write down notes and try the conversation again with someone else to get even more perspective. If you like the info, please subscribe to the blog. Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.