Jaipur Communication Workshop Report
This is a brief narrative report about what was accomplished in the 3-day TISA workshop. It was organized by the Jaipur Self-Help group, very efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. About thirty participants (three women) took part in it; one participant joined with both parents and another, with his spouse. The focus was on how people who stammer can help themselves plus positive social interactions.
Five-minute silence – was followed by the affirmation: “I am going to focus deeply for the next 3 hours… 3 days.. etc.”
Next: At the time of registration and distribution of name tags, everyone was asked to write on their name cards, an arbitrary number against the question: I expect to live till…. Most people had made an optimistic guess about their long life span. Therefore, we discussed that out of these remaining 5+ decades, we can certainly invest some months or years in learning new skills and attitudes for a good productive life- including communication- beginning with this workshop.
Next, we divided the participants in 4 groups, identified group facilitators, and tasked them with brief mutual introductions, with stammering. On return to the plenary session, we began with a question: Is stammering just a break in the flow of the speech? Obviously not. So what is stammering, in all its complexity, from the “end user” perspective?
Groups returned with a detailed comprehensive definition of stammering in Hindi, highlighting its psycho-social aspects and other features like variability and long remissions.
Next, the groups were introduced with the basic four techniques, popular in TISA. We had a round of Voluntary Stmmering, supplemented with a discussion on underlying logic and mechanism- It gives us a sense of control and a playful exploration from “inside”.
Then, some online resources on Bouncing, Prolongation, and Pausing techniques, were shared, for participants to discuss and practice in small groups.
Next, the participants video-recorded each other in the groups and analyzed their body language and secondary behaviors. We highlighted and recommended three positive behaviors in particular: eye contact, smile, 10% higher volume. Participants practiced it with each other while sharing their longer intro.
Participants called strangers (from adverts in the local newspapers) using the techniques and simultaneously recorded their own videos – which was collectively reviewed to understand when and why they “forget” to use the techniques and other intended positive behaviors.
Next, the groups were given a topic to brainstorm and share their list of helpful ideas, in the plenary meeting. These topics were:
- How to deal with incoming phone calls- especially from strangers or job interviews
- How to make Cold calls.
- How to RELAX consciously while making a phone call or presentation
Dr Nitin, a Psychiatrist, shared about Progressive Muscle relaxation, and Dr Sweta, a medical doctor, discussed Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), especially as applied to stammering situations. Conscious and rhythmic contraction and relaxation of large skeletal muscles, synchronized with inhalation and exhalation was practiced by the participants so that they could understand the technique and use it next time when they are under high stress.
Evening: We went to a nearby public park, spoke to many strangers about stammering and practiced the techniques. The last round was an “open mic session” where members stood tall on a park bench and spoke on random topics, while others clapped and encouraged them, with strangers joining now and then.
Morning session on the roof: Most participants got up by 6 am and had a morning group meditation using an audio script- Six Phase meditation (Hindi), inspired by Vishen Lakhiani.
After Breakfast, we began with an explanation and relevance of these six phases of visulaisations on: 1) Love, 2) Gratitude, 3) Forgiveness, 4) Long term goal, 5) today’s agenda and 6) Blessings all around. Positive emotions, when practiced daily can reduce stress, improve self-concept, and help cognitive skills like communication.
Self as Personality: Many of us feel that stammering over the years has soiled, tainted or dented our inner self forever. We discussed two models to understand our psyche, and our personality: Freud’s model (Id, Ego, Superego) and Jo Hari Window. Online resources were shared and the groups discussed and shared their understanding in the plenary session. If the first model were to be applied to stammering, it can be seen that:
Id likes to talk. Because talking to others gives us great pleasure. But when we stammer, Superego behaves like a disappointed parent and demands “perfection” (you must speak like so and so) and Ego initiates an inner struggle, inspired by the external reality (negative reactions); we want to speak but also want to keep quiet, not wanting to trouble others etc. We discussed different outcomes of this struggle.
Coming to Jo Hari window, every participant made his/her own window as above on a paper. Then, they were given a list of qualities, about which they had to consult their team members. Teams were formed on the basis of familiarity: so members from the same SHG (eg. Delhi or Jaipur) made one group. If the participant and his colleagues, both agreed about a certain quality – then that label went into the first quadrant (Open area or arena); if only the participant chose a label (“I have an artistic nature”) but his teammates expressed ignorance about it – it went into the Hidden area or Facade. If Teammates suggested a quality, to which the participant did not agree, it went into the Blind Spot (“You get impatient easily”). For the last, Unknown quadrant, we invited participants to make tentative guesses- what could they be doing 10 years hence? Something new? Different?
Now the facilitator asked the groups to think about: how can you increase the open area? how asking for feedback reduces our blind spots? and how does self-disclosure reduce our Hidden area? And finally, how taking risks and attempting new challenges reduces the Unknown quadrant – leading over the years, to a personality that is open, confident, less stressed about criticism, spontaneous, creative, and generally happy- even with stammering.
The last step in this exercise was: everyone wrote a secret note to self:
1) 4 people they can ask feedback from, after this workshop? About what?
2) 4 things about yourself, that you would like to tell others?
Group work: The groups were asked to conceive a short role-play, and discuss the plot in brief and the roles, to be played in public the next day.
Group work: We brainstormed in groups on some special issues and debriefed in the plenary session: 1) Interviews 2) Formal presentations 3) Marriage (should I tell? Before or after? How? Why?) 4) work/ office – how to expand our comfort zone through acceptance?
Evening in Bird Park: Open Mic session till late in the evening. Participants gave feedback and also discussed their future plans. Still later, the group had a talent show at the venue!
6-7 a.m. on the roof: Vipassana meditation with an audio script.
The last day was one long blur, with many unexpected good turns. It was entirely spent outdoors in public spaces. We bought tickets individually and with techniques, while the group watched – and the clerk began to suspect a conspiracy! We boarded the metro 4 times during the day and spent over an hour in total, conducting interviews, educating the public about stammering, and having pure fun. Here are the highlights:
- Metro Activity (Chandpole to Civil Lines)
- At Civil Lines Park: 4 role plays, staged by the participants followed by debriefing: These were funny one-act plays often with a serious message. Scenarios were briefly like this:
1. A College scene- first few days of a pws student and a supportive principal,
2. Caricature on a TISA workshop: scammers, thugs, criminals – all pws- join to learn TISA techniques! A frightening prospect! But a huge comedy.
3. A Court Scene: Father in law is suing a pws for ruining the life of his unsuspecting daughter. Full of twists and turns!
4. Bride groom Interveiw: a pws bridegroom is being checked out by the bride’s family. He “sings out” in response to every question- that is the only way he can talk, but his fluent mother is very supportive of her “talented” son. Of course the girl’s family is not impressed!
Then, we briefly discussed: Closed-ended Practice, the Role of an accountability partner, and how to do a pullout. Next, we interacted with a Karaoke party going on in the same public park. Many members explored their “Unknown” quadrant by taking the mic and belting out popular songs in the sprawling park!
- Metro activity (Civil Line to Vivek Vihar)
- Lunch near the railway station.
- Metro activity (Vivek Vihar to Badi Chaupad)- even the youngest participant (Punmaram) faced the strangers in the metro and talked at length.
- Hawamahal- Impromptu debate with Political overtones. Some of us got “triggered” but soon realized that it was just a debate!
- Govind Dev Mandir Visit: we sang and danced to Krishna Bhajans, while sudden showers cooled the atmosphere down.
- Final debriefing at a tea shop: participants discussed the pros and cons of the workshop and felt that a full-fledged National conference could easily be done in Jaipur in the coming years. The organizing team received much appreciation for the quick setup and excellent logistics.
We dispersed with lots of pictures, happy memories, and promises to meet again in the future- possibly in Patna for the 2023 National Conference.
The Jaipur SHG brought down the cost to about Rs 600 per person, per day, inclusive of the board and lodge- by wise decisions and negotiations. These were AC rooms in a big clean Cultural centre, not far from the heart of the city; a variety of eating places were close by. Dinner was left open for participants to skip or to explore the street food on their own.
The last day of the workshop made excellent use of the city parks and the spots of cultural importance – and of course the metro train. It provided a dynamic environment to practice, explore, and educate strangers.
Lastly, the group remained focused and covered all the activities planned in the agenda. At the same time, the group also had a lot of fun and social interactions. Some newcomers got their first glimpse of the beautiful PINK city, the picturesque forts, parks etc.
TISA thanks, everyone!
Ram Ram Saa, Khamma Ghani!
Facilitation and Documentation: Dr Satyendra Srivastava
(Date: 26 Sept 2023)