Practice Like You Play

You have likely heard the saying, “Practice like you play.”

Athletes cannot expect to go out and play at the height of their game if they do not practice. In the same way, professionals cannot expect to deliver a home run sales presentation, a tough customer service call, or a crucial leadership conversation if they are not willing to practice. Roleplay is the way they should practice.

If you are like many people, you might be resistant to roleplay. You might think, “Why do I need it?” You might not want to do it because it feels awkward. Or you might be afraid of messing up in front of your leaders or peers. I certainly was when I first got into sales. I was so nervous the first time that I roleplayed a sales talk that I was shaking!

Today I am going to talk to you about a few ways you can encourage your team members (and maybe even yourself) to learn to like roleplay.

  • First, remind your team members that they are in a safe space. Let them know it is okay to make mistakes with you. It will actually be much better to make those mistakes with you so that they prevent making those mistakes when it matters more. In order to keep your promise to them, listen not just for areas of improvement, but for what they are doing right when they are role-playing with you.
  • Second, help them to understand that roleplay is critical for people to cement the right habits. There is an old adage: “Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Involve me, and I understand.” It is true. If you tell someone what to do, they will not be able to retain all of the instruction. If you show them, that will help. But allowing them to go through the motions will let them actually feel what it should feel like and it will help them retain the right way of doing it versus developing muscle memory of the wrong way of doing it.
  • Third, you will need to give people a nudge. To do this, ask them who their last appointment was with and tell them to roleplay with you exactly how that conversation went. They will start to give you a play-by-play rather than a roleplay. Instruct them to get back into character and continue with the roleplay. Once they get started, they will get more comfortable.

As a leader, you should be cautious of anyone who refuses to roleplay with you. If they are not willing to do it now, then how will they be able to do it in a real-life situation in the heat of the battle? We all must practice like we play.

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