What is script analysis and how can it be used in place of roleplaying?

Script analysis is a training technique that I (Robert Bacal) began using in my seminars during the early 1990's. It was developed as a result of working with thousands of participants who absolutely hated any kind of roleplaying. Script analysis provides the opportunity to practice and receive feedback on things like interpersonal skills while providing a completely non-threatening environment.

Basically, the class is divided into groups of about 5-8 and given a script of an interaction (let's say an interaction between an angry customer and an employee). After each response by the employee in the script, the group is asked to 1) evaluate the response and 2) suggest alternative responses that might have been better or equally effective. Then the groups come together and debrief and feedback is provided.

The rationale for this is based on learning theory and research. We know that a lot of behavior can be learned and modified without the need for physical practice, but by engaging people cognitively. For example people learn things by watching others (modelling), and they can alter their behavior by thinking about the behavior. Obviously this doesn't work as well for manual (psychomotor) skills but it does work for interpersonal skills.

The technique can be coupled with spontaneous roleplaying also.

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