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  • Writer's pictureKate Crawshaw

Twelve months of Serious Woo - where do we need more learning by doing?

We are one! Happy birthday to us!

Sending so much appreciation and love to our fabulous team, collaborators and clients, as well as all our supporters along the way.

There has been HEAPS that we have learnt over the past twelve months, and much of it has not been as we had anticipated. Here are a few thoughts on what we have come across our path in the last twelve moons.

What are organisations looking to talk better about?

Serious Woo was created to help people improve their communications skills by designing workshops that offered “experiential” aspects. We found that learning by doing a much powerful way of transforming communication skills, rather than traditional “listen and learn” approaches. – otherwise known as - can you really learn to ride a bike with someone going through the steps on a chalk board?

Nearly 12 months ago, we auditioned our first group of role play actors, who have created some seriously true-to-life situations for our clients – corporate role play has gone from a the worst thing to the most powerful thing our participants have ever done.

Why is this so? Because experiential learning gives the closest learning experience to real life by giving participants the chance to:

* Practice a challenging situation in a realistic and safe environment

* See if you can “talk the talk” that you have learnt

* Become aware of your speech and body language and how it impacts others

*Practice key skills that you may only have to use once every two years, but are so important when you do.

*Make mistakes, learn from them and feel exceptionally more confident as a consequence.

*Get real time feedback from experts and remedy issues immediately

When we started our training, we expected to focus primarily on the types of programs we were familiar with, for example negotiation skills, conflict resolution and giving and receiving feedback. While we have had great sessions delivering these kinds of workshops, they have not been the subject of our focus.

It has been in fact our experiential sessions on workplace mental health that have been our main focus. We have been fortunate enough to collaborate with fabulous workplace mental health experts in both Melbourne and Sydney to develop and deliver content across the country. This brings me to my AHA moment.

In order bring about different approaches around mental health, employees (whether they are HR, managers or colleagues) need more practice, not more content.

  1. They are often told what they need to say or do for a colleague – but really nothing on the HOW

  2. They are scared that they are going to say something wrong and make the situation worse

  3. They confuse the idea that respect and concern in a professional setting equates to keeping one’s distance and that anything else is a personal intrusion

  4. They are concerned about how to create their own space and protect their own boundaries

  5. They don’t ever get the opportunity to practice a complex situation in a true to life space where they are able to manage and reflect on their own learning

  6. Being able to assist a colleague in taking the next step in seeking further support for their mental health does not require any intimate knowledge of symptoms or understanding of the half-life of psychotropics. It just requires awareness and the ability to respond appropriately.

Now is always the best time to respond to mental health issues. Early intervention will always get the best prognosis. With one in four people living with some kind of mental health challenge, now is the time to get Serious about mental health and equip employees with the skills to make a difference.

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