This month I have been working with managers of a public sector organisation on the subject of emotional intelligence. How can managers become aware about emotions, handle them effectively at the workplace and leverage this awareness to create meaningful relationships at work.
Instead of opening the session by giving them data on why emotional awareness is critical for managers, I chose to open the session with a theatre based exploration of emotions. A series of exercises that playfully enable them to embody a range of emotions and respond to each other. This was no only fun, but also impactful. Having run multiple workshops this month, here is how I observed theatre exercises enabling the group to explore emotions-
1. Everyone experienced the emotions in their body playfully, vis a vis discussing it intellectually
2. Different exercises allowed for expression of a range and intensity of emotions, especially those we have no permission to express in many social settings
3. The body became alive to the living emotion and experienced more spontaneity and responsiveness thus leading to increased expressiveness. (and a cathartic release in some cases)
4. The group was able to witness how the same emotion is expressed in so many ways and that our responses to others emotions are also varied, thus dropping judgement and deepening empathy.
Working with body always creates a buzz and vigour in the room. As participants excitedly shared their experience at the end there was an air of curiosity and discovery in the listening and sharing. “We enjoyed being all emotions. It makes us alive. It told us something that we needed.” Bingo. I chuckled in my head as I marvelled at how each person was leaning into the circle and waiting patiently for their turn to share.