ENO Opera Works Response Weekend 3, Charisma Workshop with Alex McLaren

This weekend started with a great charisma workshop with Alex McLaren, founder of the Spontaneity Shop www.the-spontaneity-shop.com

There are three different ways of replying to people and their suggestions/offers.

No. (Being inflexible an knocking down other people’s offers)

Yes, but. (You don’t oppose their idea but it’s obvious you don’t like it)

As children we are unfazed by failure. As we grow up we learn to be protective of ourselves and fearful of failure. But is a marker of control in interactions. It is the safest way of staying in control. It also means we don’t have a definite opinion because we’re not committing to having one.

Yes! And… (You roll with their idea and encourage them)

You can be ‘Yes, and’ and friendly without being arrogant. A “yes, and” person is confident. They maintain their own status while raising the status of others. Agreement rather than opposition, listening more. It’s about giving a smile, offering a handshake, rolling with your colleagues’ ideas etc. Being generous.

We did a simple exercise of simple picnic food suggestions to practice these responses and the different effects they have on both the giver and the receiver. However, the point is that these responses are ways of being.

High Status Behaviour – 

Strong upright posture, speaking slowly and taking the time and space to do and say what you want. It’s not necessarily what you’re doing, but that you’re doing it with purpose. This kind of behaviour is very important when you’re on stage but not so great in social situations!

Auditions – We set up a fake audition room with some of us playing the panel of judges and the rest taking it in turns to use the ‘yes, and’ behaviours to take control of the room.

Yes! And mode is very useful as a performer, particularly in auditions. Don’t let the mood of the audition room determine your performance, bring yes and into the room. People make guesses on your feelings based on your behaviour – if you’re friendly and warm they’re unlikely to think that you are nervous even if you are!  

Speech needs to be loud and slow. As does your walk into the room and to the accompanist etc. By slowing down you’re showing that ‘this time is for me’ 

Be the one to speak first if you can when entering the room. Say hello and introduce yourself, offer a handshake.

Make choices that show your authority and control.             If you mess up, own it, don’t let it ruin the rest of the audition.

We did a number of exercises throughout the morning that were useful in confidence building and taking control of situations.

Key points – 

Maintain your own status… Keep your head a bit stiller than normal and make eye contact. Make purposeful movements. Slow down and be comfortable taking up space.

And raise the status of others… Smile first, smile often. Admit what you don’t know. Make other people feel important and validate what they want. Mount an agreement not an argument. Say “Yes And.”


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