Act As If

Act As If

The Act As If Activity

‘Act as if’ is a powerful and interactive couple exercise to encourage dialogue, explore different ways of being and acting.

Ask your group to form into pairs. Ask each person to stand and face about 2-3 metres away from the other. Explain that in a few moments, you will announce one of a series of scenarios you would like each partnership to role-play, where everyone assumes the role of a particular person ‘act as if’ they were that person.

Instruct each person walk towards their partner as if they were acting out a particular role, eg long-lost friend. When ready, invite all partners to interact, for approx 60 seconds.

This first round is generally quite fun because you proposed rather positive circumstances for each of their roles. But on occasions, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Take a minute to invite your group to reflect on what happened and what they observed during the round. You could ask many questions, such as:

  • Was this an exciting meeting? Why?
  • Did anyone not enjoy re-connecting with their long lost friend? Why?
  • Describe the energy between you during this experience.

Next, instruct each person to engage in a second round, this time invite each person to assume a new, more difficult role, such as if each of you were co-workers, but you had a terrible argument yesterday and you are about to see each other for the first time the day after. Allow approx 60 seconds of interaction, then pause and reflect again.

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This is clearly more difficult and will bring up many issues for some people, whereas for others, it will be an opportunity to mend the relationship and move forward.

Finally, instruct each person to engage in a third round. Ask one person to be a young camper who has just been dropped off at camp for the first time, while their partner acts as if they were an experienced cabin counsellor.

Allow for 60 seconds of interaction, then pause and reflect on what transpired.

The beauty of this exercise is that there’s no limit to the number and type of roles you could invite your group to play. Clearly, you could just choose a series of fun roles to play, and enjoy a few minutes of high energy and positive interaction.

Or, you could make things more interesting and invite partners to take on roles for which they may have significant connections to, or even substantial objections to assuming.

Moment of Reflection
  • What did you notice about the roles played by you and your partner?
  • Was it difficult for you to play this role? Why? Why not?
  • What made your interactions awkward?
  • Do you think your roles were played convincingly? Why?
  • Were you able to empathise with your partner’s role? Do you think they empathised with you? What was the evidence for this?
  • Was there conflict? How did you or your partner respond to this?
  • What does it take to empathise with another person?
  • How might this exercise be useful to us in our work/play/family life?
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The topics of this publication: reflectionselfempathy, emotions, resiliencerole playing

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