Adam Blatner

Revised February 6, 2006    Also, see papers on Role Theory  ...  Role Analysis  

Role taking skills may be developed through a mixture of practice and some systematic instruction. One way to begin is to recognize that most people in many of the roles they play carry with that role a goodly number of questions, which may or may not include those mentioned below.  Some of these questions below may apply , but with more or less relevance; others may not apply at all. Reviewing them can serve as a bit of a warm-up process. The list might also be a training exercise for those practicing to be a trained auxiliary ego (or supporting player) in a role playing.

In another paper on this website (Imaginative Interviews) I put forth a preliminary warm up approach in which six questions are asked:

What are the advantages of this role?

What are the disadvantages?

What kind of specifically-described event occurs in the course of my playing this role that makes me happy–and is directly relevant to the role at hand?  (That is, if my role is acrobat, my getting a birthday present from a friend may please me, but is not related to my role as acrobat. Getting a raise, people throwing money, getting a standing ovation, etc.–is more relevant.)

What kind of event makes me sad?   Angry or annoyed?   Frightened or worried?

Other questions include the following:

Do I think I am doing my role well?

What sub-role components do I consider myself doing better than others? Which are less skilled or being given less effort or focus?

Am I aware at all of any–or certain–role components or skills that I am not fulfilling?

Are the expectations for achievement in this role–or in any of the sub-role components–realistic? Standards too high? Too low?

Does this role seem easy, medium, or difficult for me?

Do I need more training? If so, how am I going to get it?

Do I feel I need more information in order to make the decisions being asked of me?

Does anyone support me in this role?

Who opposes me?

Are there any who recognize my good moves?

Will they or others overlook or forgive my mistakes?

Will my compromises be viewed as mere weakness rather than as an effort to exercise a degree of tact, political astuteness, and reality in coping with a complex situation?

Are there some whose approval I need in order to continue in my role?

Are there some whose approval I seek, even if it isn’t strictly necessary?

Are there some folks who think I should do certain role components that I consider low priority?

Are there some folks who expect me to do it all, fulfill more role elements than I consider realistic or possible?

Do I sense that certain key people aren’t disclosing all the thoughts, feedback, and other information that I need?

If so, what do I think is the reason for that withholding?
    Are they afraid of my anger or retaliation?  Are they insufficiently skilled at speaking openly or asserting themselves? A bit timid?
    If so, how can I encourage them or reduce their withholding of feedback?

In turn, am I hesitant to give frank feedback to certain others lest they be overly hurt, disorganized by criticism, vengefully or spitefully proud and inclined to retaliate, just shut down, etc.?

What conflicts are inherent in this role?

Are there certain other roles that I or many or most people might be preferring? (For example, instead of working in this factory, might I prefer to be on vacation?)

Is this role a preparation for another more complex, advanced, more highly recognized or rewarded role?  Is there a promotion awaiting?

Am I impatient to move on to another role or phase of this role?