Human beings organize their behavior as a function of the milieu they are in or think they are in. Seldom, do we realize that it is the milieu that controls our behavior patterns, not the behavior itself. Our overall demeanor at a bar is different than at work, at home with our children or while giving a speech at a University. The milieu also called the circumstances or situation acts as a very powerful behavior organizer and modifier.

The other two master behavior dynamics are:
1- Role-Playing (Who I am to myself and person or group I am communicating with.)
2- Intention(s) of the communication or speech at hand. (What I want to see happen.)

Role-playing is by far the most immediately understood dynamic. Depending on the circumstance, we constantly assign roles to each other and ourselves: husband, wife, son, daughter, etc. in the personal realms, boss, employee, partner, etc. in the professional realm, and friend, neighbor, democrat, republican, etc. in other realms. Depending on the socio-economic, cultural or national background and heritage of an individual, role-playing is usually well defined, highly specific and yet mostly transparent. Role-playing permeates every layer of our personality, interactions, relationships and activities on the following planes: physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. The constant “recurring internal” monologues and stories we tell ourselves about the world always revolve around a cast of characters, various plots, storylines, and melodramatic tones, undertones, past and future cross-referencing, hopes, fears, conclusions, etc.

We live our lives “as if” these roles actually exist and we rarely notice the “made-up” quality of the roles we play until something goes “out of character.” Some people feel a sense of freedom from their role-playing, while others feel confined by them. The roles we play are like the skin on our backs, and the people in our lives know us through these identities. Role-playing is a learned skill and its processes refined over time. A new job, for example, is not just a set of skills applied, it is a “new role.”

The Actor Metaphor is at the heart of the matter of our life experiences. From that perspective, there is an actor in each and every one of us. We all develop various degrees of attachment to the roles we play. There should always be equilibrium between commitment to and detachment from the roles we play. Detachment helps us maneuver with ease and grace while commitment keeps us focused and empowers us to stay on track.

Issues or credibility, self-esteem, and self-confidence all stem from the roles we took on or were assigned in our early childhood. The Actor Metaphor is in my view essential to distinguish and learn from for a healthy development. It is often the roles we play that we don’t like or feel imprisoned by. The emotional roles we play are sometimes harder to spot and deactivate. For instance, when we leave a bad situation we also leave the role we played in it, for they cannot be dissociated.

Victim, oppressor, aggressor, suppressor, bully, abuser, dominator, etc. are all roles, and too often their essence has spread through our emotional fabric. By recognizing the role(s) at play, we can better (1) be aware, (2) detach or let it in, (3) analyze and (4) respond or let go. Too often, we analyze and respond before we understand what is at play in the situation.

Every role attracts its opposite; where would drama be without a protagonist and an antagonist? A victim needs an aggressor or abuser, etc. We seldom recognize how much role-playing in its dualistic forms is active in our everyday dealings. Winning, being on top, making it, closing the deal, etc. all depend on good negotiation skills that, in turn, depend on good role-playing.

Self-confidence is intimately connected to the certainty of knowing what role we are playing in the situation at hand. Often an emotional role is in competition with a professional role within us. The boss of a large company may not feel comfortable in his or her “boss” role because on an emotional level; he or she feels inadequate due to unfinished childhood trauma. It is kind on our parts to recognize the Actor Metaphor on these emotional planes. Most people experienced these “breaks in belonging” early in their lives. A lack of self-confidence is usually traced back to a “happening” in that person’s life, which either forced them or scared them into taking on a victim role.

By becoming more aware and sensitive to role-playing and its powerful impact on our interactions, we can gain valuable insight into workability in any situation. Blaming, complaining, overly controlling behavior, passive aggressive going-against or resentment are the usual suspects of antagonistic role-playing. True self-confidence and healthy role-playing is free of those conditioned and frozen forms of expression.

In the Actor Metaphor, I play roles convincingly but I am identified or committed to them as roles or acts, not as who I am in essence. As a creative interpretation, who we are is the “possibility” of role-playing hence the grace, dignity, and power we can infuse role-playing with.

If you need coaching or know someone who could benefit from honing these skills, feel free to contact me on my cell at (818) 486-3395 or go to my contact page by clicking Here!

Wishing you continued success,
Eric Stone

"On-demand, world-class training for high impact
Speeches, Presentations & Media Appearances."

(310)205-9219(Office) ~ (310)388-3248(Fax) ~
Copyright © 2009 Speakers & Artists International, Inc.

Author's Bio: 

?Eric Stone is the Founder/CEO of Speakers & Artists International, Inc.; a California Corporation delivering advanced courses and training programs in the arenas of business communication, public performance, and personal growth & development. He is also the Founder and Head Coach of Hollywood Actors Studio, in Beverly Hills, CA, where he has been developing talent and training actors for the film industry and lecturing for the past twenty years. Eric Stone is also a Producer, a Creative Director, and a Professional Stage, Film, and Television Actor with major national and international credits to his name. Eric, also known as the artist Philippe Benichou is a Published Author and an Internationally acclaimed award-winning Artist, represented in seven countries around the world.

Eric Stone owes his expertise and particular sensitivity to speakers' concerns to a variety of training, experiences, and encounters with countless individuals and group dynamics. Eric began his career as a stage actor in New York City in 1976. Teaching and directing actors and performers was the first step in beginning a long second career as a public speaking skills trainer. Back in 1987, his sheer passion for artistic expression and his relentless pursuit of freeing performers of all walks of life led Eric to establish a new field of practice dedicated to public speakers and business communication. A series of open invitations to work with individuals and groups outside of show business was the decisive element which contributed to the creation of Speakers & Artists International, Inc. The success and undeniable results it produced for people greatly encouraged Eric Stone to continue his journey as a teacher, director, and coach.

Methodology: In this method you learn by personal discovery and experiential wisdom using a large palette of processes, techniques, and distinctions to promote self-awareness.

“You cannot practice what you cannot distinguish” is the core principle of this approach. If we see more what is at play, we can perform better. Superior communication in salesmanship, for instance, is a matter of distinction. All processes presented are creative in nature, and the creative realm is thoroughly distinguished as separate from the psychological, therapeutic, emotional and other realms.

There are four major areas of expertise this method delivers: (1) A thorough and creative inquiry into the nature of where we presently operate from when in comes to our communication situations. (2) The actual practice of exercises, tools, and techniques delivered which by “process” will create the desired level of proficiency and (3) By creating “openings for action” which usually the coach infuses gracefully and insightfully into the “moment” at hand, very much like a tennis coach. By simply pointing out one element of the game previously ignored, it will literally change the way you play tennis and improve your game instantly. It makes this approach not only innovative but organic. (4) Atmosphere is professional and supportive to allow personal risk taking.

"I am very much a target oriented coach working on key issues and problem areas related to public performance. Issues of personal power & effectiveness, clear communication & authentic self-expression have become the cornerstone distinctions which over time have served individuals. I follow and empower the purpose of the speaker at all levels. By focusing on the "public persona" rather than the "private" person, it becomes overwhelmingly clear what aspects of public speaking and performance to focus on. Public speaking relies on very simple yet wonderfully telling "dynamics" between the speaker and his or her audience. That is the true competitive edge of this style of coaching which targets "organic, spontaneous, and authentic" engaging techniques not outdated "external" body language and frozen gestures, postures, and various similes.

~Eric Stone