Practice and the water workout

photo: D Sharon Pruitt

I’ve been doing a lot of physical therapy lately for a wonky shoulder, and much of my workout takes place in a pool.  As I was splashing around the other day, I got to thinking about what makes water exercise so very effective.  I realized that its two big properties also apply to the practice we design.

1.  Support

Water’s the original anti-gravity chamber.  According to aquatic therapist Carolyn Collman,

the buoyancy of the water naturally offsets gravity. In waist-deep water you are about 50% of your body weight, at chest-depth you’re 35%. In deep water you’re weightless and you can literally “off-load” your entire musculo-skeletal system by wearing a flotation belt or using a noodle. Buoyancy also increases range of motion of joints and muscles, further facilitating movement. 

In our form of practice, the Interactors provide the support, just like water.  We give you a realistic situation to handle, but we’re carrying a lot of the weight, in these ways:

  • It’s not real.  No matter what the outcome, you won’t have to deal with the weight of the consequences.  If you botch that uncomfortable situation, so what?  You won’t have to face that person tomorrow.  You’re free to learn from the experience.
  • We give you feedback you won’t get in real life.  After you practice, the Interactors can talk to you about how your actions affected them.  For example, “When you stayed silent at that point, I felt that you were really willing to hear me out.  That gave me more confidence in you.”
  • We’re really good at it.  We’re not talking about an awkward role play with your co-worker, just going through the motions.  We put in a lot of research, design and rehearsal to make sure you’ll relate to the situations you’ll be dealing with.  So you can focus on practicing your own skills, not on how stupid you feel pretending that you’re an angry customer.

Which leads me to the second property of water:

2. Resistance

From WebMD:

[Water’s] natural viscosity, or thickness, challenges your body with a constant state of resistance….wet workouts are as good or better than dry ones in terms of fat and calorie burning, cardiovascular efficiency, and endurance.

In our practice, Interactors provide plenty of resistance.  They don’t roll over and play dead.  As you practice with them, they’ll sometimes reveal hidden information you hadn’t reckoned with.  They’ll try to divert the conversation.  They’ll disagree.  They’ll be tough to win over.  Just like real life.

Interactors bring feelings into the mix, just like the people you deal with every day. They give your emotional intelligence a workout. They also respond to what you do. Push them, they’ll push back. Understand their motivations, and they might buy in. And they give you the invaluable chance to try something until you get it right.

Well, I’ve got to get down to the pool now.  If you’d like to know what Workplace Interactors practice looks like, you can see us in action on our website or on YouTube.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *