ted Learning | theatre based learning

Click "Enter" to submit the form.

Let’s have a heated debate

ted Learning Theatre of Learning drama based training

Ding-Dong-Not-So-Merrily: An Explosive Festive Cocktail


•   Lots of related people altogether in one room who usually keep their distance for the other 364 days of the year
•   Slightly too many tablespoons of Michael Buble
•   Several pints of alcohol – of your choice – before 11.30am
•   A dash of over-excited children on their 4th sugar rush of the day
•   An oven groaning under the strain of cooking 5 different dietary requirement festive meals all at the same time
•   A slightly overwhelmed four-legged friend who should have gone out for a walk 2 hours ago
•   5 servings of ‘fun family games’
•   3 helpings of battery-operated, flashing and noisy kid’s toys
•   A sprinkling of “anything I can do to help dear?”



•   Chuck all ingredients in together
•   Introduce a current affairs / political / sport / social issues topic of conversation.
•   Light blue touch paper and retire.

No doubt that many of us will unfortunately identify with the after-effects of such a cocktail…. it’s a heady mix and one that perhaps many of us feel is inevitable at this time of the year. Arguments, awkward moments, heated debates, opinionated disputes, heightened emotions, bitten tongues ….. all making for really difficult conversations.

At ted Learning, we prefer to call them Brave Conversations. Here’s why ….

Think back to the last time you had a conversation with someone that really didn’t go well (festively fuelled or otherwise!). Maybe you knew that conversation was going to happen, or maybe it was spontaneous. When you imagine having this chat, what feelings are coming up? Possibly anger, resentment, irritation, sadness, anxiety, guilt, or even, in hindsight, apathy. How do you think the other person in the conversation felt? Perhaps similar to you. When we have high emotion and don’t have the confidence and skills in place to have effective ‘difficult’ conversations, all sorts of ‘stuff’ starts to happen that impacts what we say and what we do. This hijacking of our behaviour by our emotions often results in either a) an attempt at the conversation which doesn’t go well, and we wish we hadn’t bothered, or b) an avoidance of the conversation – we sweep it under the carpet and hope the problem will go away – which often leads to longer term issues and dysfunctional relationships.

What we need to minimise the likelihood of outcomes a) or b), is access to tools and skills which help us navigate these conversations more positively and effectively, with the other person in mind and our emotions in check. That way, we’ll feel less awkward, less riled, and more brave, more comfortable to talk without being hijacked: turning a difficult conversation into a Brave Conversation.

In our Brave Conversation’s training workshop, we use live drama scenes to bring those challenging chats to life. As observers, the audience experience the situation and see the effect of emotional hijacking on both parties, without being personally involved. This gives us a vehicle to discuss and investigate motivations, behaviours, communication skills and impact, allowing delegates to identify character’s emotional triggers and recognise at which points the conversation could have taken a more positive route if individuals had reacted differently. Using actors and our unique drama scenes in this context allows us to explore theories of communication, emotional intelligence and conflict in an engaging and interactive way which delegates can then begin to apply to their own experiences.

We then begin to look at tools and strategies to recognise and manage our own emotional responses, supporting individuals to understand the negative behaviours and language traps we can each fall into that can make the situation worse. This means we begin to raise self-awareness and can focus on how to approach these conversations more successfully.  Using the forum theatre technique, delegates then direct our characters in a re-run of the scene, deploying the strategies and tools we’ve covered, resulting in a brave conversation rather than a difficult one. Delegates leave the workshop with a toolbox of tips and tactics to help them engage in challenging conversations more effectively, whenever and wherever they arise – whether that’s a performance-related discussion at work, or a difference of opinion at the festive dinner table.

If you want help your employees to get better at having Brave Conversations, talk to ted https://www.tedlearning.co.uk/brave-conversations/   Now, I’ve got a bone to pick with you … did I just hear you just say Santa isn’t real???

Roxy-Hooton-Director-ted Learning
Roxy Hooton

Roxy is the is Director of Operations of ted Learning. She is a fundamental part of our team ensuring that our people are looked after and that our delivery is tailored to the clients needs and is ‘on-brand’.