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The Stage - Personal skills part 1


The definition of skill is:
‘Special ability in a task, for example sport, especially acquired by training.’

The definition of talent is:
‘Innate ability, aptitude or faculty.’

Hence, talent is no good unless it is brought out in some fashion by suitable training or other action.

One aspect of motivation is having the confidence to attempt something.
It helps enormously if you have some suitable skills initially.

Many of the skills that would be sought in theatre training are equally applicable to business needs.

  • Listening skills
  • Maintaining eye contact
  • Emotional expression and awareness
  • Discipline and concentration
  • Flexibility
  • Teamwork as necessary
  • Voice control
  • Improvising and many more

In business and the acting profession you will have to sell yourself, retain a pleasant personality when seeking a position or promotion and be able to take rejection constructively.

A high personal energy source is also vital. These aspects and a sense of ownership and being part of the organisation will improve motivation.

In part you will need to work in a company that supports a good positive culture.
If not, even with a lot of energy, you could find yourself being slowly demoralised.
Just working hard and to excessive hours is not the answer. We can all work at a high rate for short periods of time but for the long term it can be mentally and physically damaging.

It’s no coincidence that those in a low energy state we look upon things in a more negative manner.
It can become a vicious circle.

Expressing emotion

It is natural for actors to consider emotion in their performances but not so clear cut for others in a business or even in a home setting.

Being intelligent is not enough to be good at what you do.
Having a high IQ may help in terms of understanding acquired information but how you use that information and how you express yourself can be equally important.

A definition for Intelligence is:

‘The capacity for understanding; ability to perceive and comprehend meaning’.

The understanding of the emotions and reactions of individuals is important.
How an individual copes with these and turns them into positive actions is extremely important.
This is termed Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Typically, Emotional Intelligence seems to be twice as important as IQ for success in a leadership role (see The Complete Leadership package).

It is very important to understand your own EQ and how it may affect others as you move up the ladder of responsibility.

EQ also applies to teams as opposed to individuals.
Teams containing a high level of persons with high EQ usually perform better.

This requires making an effort to connect with other members of the team.
For example.

  • Are you interested in finding the cause and solution to a problem without apportioning blame?
  • Do you like to find out how people are doing when you meet them, or at a meeting or via social events?
  • Have you ever bothered to check understanding and agreement or just assumed this is fine?
  • Can you give constructive criticism without being rude and overly negative?
  • Is feedback encouraged?

In terms of expressing our feelings it seems to be easier for children and tends to dwindle as we grow older.

Release emotion and gain energy

Actors are encouraged to express their feelings and from that to improve their energy levels and motivation for a part. For the typical person in business or at home it is not such a regular occurrence.

This release of emotion is not about hurting the feelings of others for you to feel better.
Many will express feelings to a friend about something that is worrying them and ‘get the problem off their chest’.
This sort of experience is often followed by a sense of relief and a rejuvenation of energy and enthusiasm.
Suppressing particular issues by not being able to express them can clearly affect performance.

It is not just about you and your expression of emotions. You will need to have a fine appreciation of the emotional state of others. Any training in this area should be handled in a sensitive manner with the use of specifically qualified individuals.

Have a sense of humour

It is very important to maintain a sense of humour which can help diffuse situations and help deal with stressful work related problems. When you come across someone who appears to have had a sense of humour by-pass they become difficult to deal with. Clearly, there is a place for humour but it doesn’t hurt to smile a lot.
Smiling is free and signals a pleasant and welcoming personality.

It can be particularly useful when giving a presentation. It not only helps the audience relax but is very good for your own nerves.

At the very least never take yourself too seriously. If you do others won’t.

It’s not a bad idea to think of a range of ideas to increase the enjoyment in the workplace.
Ask for suggestions. Perhaps have a few with prizes attached.
These could be anything, for example, group ten pin bowling to writing poetry or taking photographs etc.