So, here we are just past mid-October. The weather for many of us is crisper, perhaps there’s some beautiful foliage for you to enjoy. There is also, for many of us, a shift into the next gear of work or school as we begin the ramping up of things to accomplish before the semester (“term” for my Brits shaking their heads) or financial year ends. We confront project deadlines, late nights, and the stress that impacts us as a result. And that can mean certain things fall by the wayside. Like your attentiveness to an individual communication/voice/mindfulness practice for example. We are taking this head-on and offering some ideas to keep you engaged rather than exhausted before things really swirl into the chaos officially known as the “holiday season.”
We’re going to be very upfront here… some of you may be in full-time drama school training programs, or part-time, or something else in between. For the great spectrum of professional people out there, it may be that you take communications courses or see a coach privately or maybe you are doing entirely your own variation of unguided engagements around this kind of work, it’s all good. But you better be making a conscious effort to engage with the process in your mind/body. Most people in our line of work will tell you how frustrating it can feel when we see the people we work with expecting our contact time to simply “fix” whatever it is they want to address or that somehow by showing up and going through the motions they will be “trained”through attending classes. There’s much more to it than that, and it depends on the work you’re willing to do. As with anything in life, but particularly when it comes to communication skills. Why? HABITS.
Our habits dictate many aspects of our lives and our communication behaviors such as posture, accent, vocal patterns, gesture…you name it, it’s involved and been forming through all stages of your life. In order to increase flexibility and use of communication skills habits must be identified and replaced with habits that encourage adaptivity and awareness. Coaches and teachers are invaluable for helping this process along and guiding us through set backs and breakthroughs, but ultimately long-term progress comes back to our willingness to engage, question, and notice. Especially when we’re busy. There are so many insights that might be missed because we feel the need to constantly plough ahead instead of examining what’s happening through our experiences. That’s why we’re proposing a dedication to creating consistency by finding ways to engage with your communication skill-building work solo.
These are our suggestions:
Be Realistic: Identify a few key skills you feel confident working on individually. Write down the exercises you know to be helpful so you don’t have to scramble. Don’t set crazy time expectations. Even 5 minutes can help you on your way when consistently and thoughtfully used.
Ask For Support: Ask coaches and teachers what they recommend in terms of solo work that will help you work toward your goals. Trust us, they’ll love it.
Plan Ahead: Notice where setting time aside will be possible, it doesn’t always have to be the same. Pencil in pockets of time and do your best to stick to them.
Create Rituals: Enjoy having a candle lit during evening practice? Go for it. Have a favorite bench in the park where you can practice mindfulness in peace? Get yourself there. Find ways to create space and occasion for your practices
Talk About It: Tell your loved ones (or you know, housemates) about what you’re doing whether just casually or in a full blown detailed conversation. Either way you will be engaging your own thought process around your goals and letting them know you shouldn’t be disturbed while practicing.
Get Creative: Don’t be afraid to go off on tangents. Research and experiment, keep yourself curious so that the process isn’t a chore. Keep it spicy!
Hopefully these suggestions provide some food for thought. We truly believe communication skills goals can be achieved wherever you’re coming from, especially when you feel connected to and present with your own process. Let us know how it goes and what you think!
Take Good Care,
Lindsay and Christine