In Part 5, you will imagine implementing the new behaviors you identified in 4E. In Part 6, you will practice your new behavior by role-playing with a family member or close friend who is not directly involved in your goal. It is still not time to actually implement your new behaviors, as Parts 5 and 6 will help you to iron out the wrinkles.
Note: Submit both CCC Part 5 and CCC Part 6 in one document, but start a new page for CCC Part 6.
Selecting a communication goal
Describing communication patterns
Week 2 & 3
Establishing behavioral goals: What will it look like when I am doing it well?
Analyzing the goal
Covert Rehearsal: Practicing in your imagination
Behavioral Rehearsal: Practicing your new behavior
Actual Implementation: Performing your behavior in real-life situations
Evaluating your progress
Instructions: Part 5
5A. Covert Rehearsal
Covert Rehearsal is an effective way of trying out new communication behaviors. Think about a time that you were daydreaming, or dreaming at night. You can use your imagination to think about an experience or situation that is not really happening at that time or in that place. You can do the same type of simulation on purpose to think about a time and place that will allow you to practice your new interpersonal communication skill to meet your goal as outlined in your new behaviors listed in CCC Part 4E.
By covertly rehearsing, you make it much more likely that you will be actually performing the behavior comfortably and effectively in real life situations. This surprising effect of covert rehearsal has been shown in numerous studies. What makes covert rehearsal particularly useful is that you can carry it around and do it anywhere – in the shower, cleaning, cooking, and so forth. The more you vary covertly rehearsing a particular episode, the more likely you will be able to perform well in the actual situation. For example, if you are planning to initiate and maintain a conversation with your neighbor, you should think through a number of possible topics and questions before finally choosing what you perceive to be the best options. In other words, think before you speak. Plan what you will say and do in a particular situation where you can practice your goal.
Covert rehearsal can be used both to prepare for an upcoming communication event, and to evaluate and revise an event that has already occurred – as in instant replay. This is done all the time for sports teams. Each player watches the game again and decides how he or she could do it better next time. Both planning ahead before a conversation and reflecting after a conversation will increase the probability that you will perform your new skill effectively the next time you use it.
Note that some people initially find it difficult to imagine specific conversations with others. Keep with it if you have difficulty. You will eventually succeed with practice, and when you do, you will be amazed at the effect. If you are having a hard time talking to people in your mind, speak to yourself out loud or speak to your reflection in the mirror. Think about the following:
- Identify the situation you would like to practice; do you want to plan a new conversation, or replay a past situation but change the outcome?
- Where will you have this conversation – in the kitchen, on the bus, in the cafeteria at lunch, at school in a classroom, in the board room, in your manager’s office, or at a friend’s house?
- Provide a detailed narrative that identifies your selected communication event.
- Write a description of your surroundings – date, time, location, specific room, physical surroundings and so forth, and the people who will participate in this communication event.
- Name the people involved, what you will talk about, where it takes place, when it takes place, how it should occur, and why you need to plan for a better conversation next time.
- How will your physical surroundings affect your rehearsal?
For this section, you are to select a communication event, related to your goal, for which you will prepare covertly. Choose one or more behaviors to work on that are listed in CCC Part 4E. Choose a communication event that you would like to prepare for privately or secretly – covertly. As you imagine yourself practicing your new skill, focus hard on specific interactions. Actually, think about an interpersonal communication exchange – what you say, and how the other person responds. Don’t just go through the motions. Really see yourself asking specific questions, making specific comments, and hearing the other person replying. As you imagine the sequence, practice precisely what you want to say and how you want to say it. Experiment with what feels to be the most effective and comfortable way for you to implement your new behaviors.
Submit a detailed narrative that identifies your selected communication event and include the following:
- Description of your surroundings – date, time, location, specific room, physical surroundings and so forth
- Explanation of how your physical surroundings will affect your rehearsal
- Description of the people who will participate in this communication event
- What you will talk about
- How it should occur
- Why you need to plan for a better conversation next time
5B. Covert Practice
In a quiet place, begin thinking about the conversation event from Part 5A, as you would like to see it evolve. When you hit rough spots, try a variety of options until you find a response that pleases you. If you are having trouble with this, pretend you are an author planning to write the dialogue for a reality TV episode, or you are composing lines for characters in a play or movie or book. Use the mirror technique and take turns role-playing both people in the conversation. You can also use puppets, stuffed animals, socks on your hands, or different hats or coats to take the parts of two people having a conversation.
What can you see in the background? The scenery department needs to know how to create the setting for the play, movie, or reality TV show. The illustrator needs to know what to draw or paint for the book you are writing. You need to know exactly what type of situation you are dealing with before you can write the dialogue for the characters.
When you are satisfied with your imagined scene, write it out so you can see how it looks and read it aloud so you can hear how it sounds. If you are writing a one-act play, you can plan and add stage directions.
Enter left: The wife enters the kitchen to angrily scream at the dawdling children who won’t eat their supper.
Then, write her exact words down so your actor will know what to do and say. Identify each speaker and use quotation marks for their exact words.
Wife, using a loud and angry voice: “Aren’t you children finished eating your supper yet?”
Plan and write down your nonverbal and verbal behaviors and responses, including your own behaviors and responses and the reactions of the other person in the communication event.