Pics: 1. Gaurish and 2. Bhaskar reporting on behalf of sub-group about “emotional” situations related to speech 3. Organizers (Devang and Mahesh) presenting a wall display “TRANSFLUENCY” to participants 4 & 5 – JP conducts a session and shares a personal story of assertivenss 6. Anil sells a gold cup to Vivek (role play) 7. The group fills the feedback form 8. Campus round- Many thanks to Infosys! 9. Body language exercise 10. Rupesh and Devang in a role play “Do you stammer?” 11. Mimicry round (to study, analyze & duplicate body language) 12. The wall display given to participants (Transfluency- Indian PWS faces- common men, uncommon stories..)
While we waited for some late birds to arrive, a group (Devang, Anil, Bhaskar) went out with sachin to practice some social and communication skills on the road. Again, some long cherished beliefs got challenged: No one would want to talk to me because I stutter! Over a short period, we spoke to a Cook in a three star hotel, two management students from Symbiosis, two regular guys going to Aundh, a couple strolling by etc. One big hurdle we have to deal with is -confronting our fears and assumptions. Our assumptions are so close to our thinking that we are not even aware that they exist and influence our behavior every moment..
Emotional Intelligence was the topic of discussion next; a sub-group exercise dealt with listing out all the “feeling” terms- names of various emotions and then drawing connecting lines: is contempt linked to pity or anger? any connection between sadness and boredom? Next exercise asked participants to list out all the situations and activities with strong emotional content in workplace and outside. Is saying “No” to boss a big issue for PWS? What emotions does it give rise to? We discovered that for some of us, even people offering free debit cards in the shopping mall, can generate enough anxiety. Because, they start asking your name suddenly. Wife’s friends come over, visiting us, and this suddenly becomes an intense ordeal for the husband! If he does not interact with them, he will be considered aloof, rude. And if he does, wife may get “strange” looks!
Then, we took up the role of assertive skills and body language. JP shared a real life story of being assertive, without being “emotional” or rude. Five participants were given various scenarios and were asked to display it through body language. Then, came role plays: how do we deal when some one asks: Do you stutter? and smiles. Next, one participant tried to sell a “gold cup” to another for Rs 100. In another role play: a therapist tried to sell “cure” to a desperate student.. Funny situations which helped us to relive our pain body (to borrow from Eckhart Tolle)- and lessen its hold on us.
After lunch, the group took a tour of the Infy campus, with JP acting as rather voluble real estate guide! He tried to sell the Building 6 to TISA. Sachin did not have funds fortunately, so he quietly slunk away. Meditation center impressed all of us. This led to discussion about role of meditation, silence, Vipassana and Brahma Vidya. Anil shared about Brahma Vidya, how it works and how it may help a PWS. It involves a lot of multi-tasking motor and cognitive tasks planned around conscious breathing: an ancient art which originated near his home town- Nalanda, Bihar. The challenge is to be regular and devoted in practice.
Then, we had a group discussion simulation; A very confusing case study was shared about a theft. Nothing was really clear. The members had to decide who could have been responsible for the theft of Rs 5000. A lot had to be assumed, guessed and “sold” to other members. Participants had to take initiative, negotiate, talk and listen, interrupt and get interrupted by others.. As the time closed in, speed, intensity and interruptions rose to a crescendo. Finally three groups emerged. The facilitator gave another three minutes: convince others or get convinced- and reach a consensus. This exercise was about spontaneous communication (letting go) under considerable pressure: personal opinions, gut feelings, negotiations, alliances, arguments, sitting back and leaping forward at the right moment.
Later, we discussed the need for forgiveness: forgiving ourselves and others: teachers, parents, siblings, colleagues etc. The need to travel light- without the useless emotional baggages, which slow us down. When one participant shared a personal story involving his father, his eyes were moist- many others had similar thoughts and everyone was silent for some time. We always offer a tough exterior to the world, but we all have our sad memories, moments of unresolved pain. We have often blamed our father for our speech difficulties: If only he was a little considerate..if only he did not poke fun at me.. One of the signs of recovery is: relationships dramatically improve! We start moving forward fast..
Formal written feedback was taken. Before we left, we shared a humorous video, which claimed that stuttering is an old code language: dots and dash of Morse code are like repetitions and prolongations of stammering and these convey a secret pattern- which only other PWS can understand :-))
Everyone thanked everyone else. This workshop could not be possible without commitment on everyone’s part. We also shared a laminated wall display as a memorabilia..designed by our old friend Raja B (Chennai group).