Since 1996, Dramatrix has been helping companies and individuals to develop communication skills via interactive drama workshops and team-building programs. Be it presentation skills, conflict management, leadership skills, customer service or a specially tailored workshop specific to your needs, Dramatrix’ team of experienced professionals can likely help you in the most creative of ways.
Interview with John Cantwell of Dramatrix
What is Communication Training?
We think everyone can benefit from training, because we all have situations in our lives where we work together with others, have goals to achieve and relationships to build. This manifests itself in certain business contexts, such as a manager with his/ her team, a salesperson or customer service rep with a client, and so on. In all these situations we should be aware of our counterparts’ goals and needs as well as our own, and take a problem solving, value-maximizing attitude.
How did Dramatrix get started?
Dramatrix was started over 20 years ago right here in Budapest. It was pioneering days back then and it seemed anything was possible, even a small group of young British and Americans starting up a training company!
At first we approached the major hotels, offering to train their people in guest interactions. Soon we approached many of the multinational companies that had subsidiaries here, who needed to train their young managers. Our early success led to work with advertising agencies, pharmaceutical companies and the FMCG sector, and we branched out from there.
What makes Dramatrix different?
Our training method is based on theatre workshop and improvisational games. This makes it extraordinarily practical and effective. Participants love the fact that it focuses on them and activates them. Rather than listening to a trainer talk, they experience real interactions, playing with professional actors, and can feel what works, allowing them to build better habits that they can continue to use day-in, day-out.
What would an actual training be like?
A typical training is one or two days and is either held at Dramatrix or at a site chosen by the client. Usually a training focuses on a specific area, for example negotiations, leadership communication or presentation skills. We run trainings in English and Hungarian.
One of the most important aspects of this approach is getting people to trust themselves. We start by giving them simple tasks where the stakes are low but there is ample scope to surprise themselves with their creativity and resourcefulness. In any interaction we normally perceive certain risks, but one way to overcome the fear of failure is by focusing on what the other person needs and/or what the situation requires. It sounds simple, and it is, but we very often fail to see such opportunities to connect and forge a bond. By taking the focus off your own behavior you can more effectively put others at ease, increasing the trust and allowing constructive ideas and behaviors to flow.
Who are your clients, and how do you help them?
Most of our clients are big companies. We believe we help these companies because their people are more confident, capable, motivated, and have better relationships with their colleagues. The individuals of course gain all these benefits and keep them for life.
What are some of the theatre techniques that you might use and how would the participants be expected to be involved?
It’s important to note that when we work with company employees, we are not training them to act. We want them to be themselves, but to get more out of themselves. If they have something to say, say it. Say it, with the intent of improving the cooperation. Actors are very aware of, for example, what their body language says. They think in terms of a character’s motivation. The thing is, you can apply this when you being yourself too.
What do participants feel during and after the trainings?
Of course the training is challenging and it is not always easy. You usually have to get people out of a comfort zone. But overall, I’d say people feel liberated during and after the training. They gain confidence in themselves and see that things don’t have to be as complicated as we often make them, that we can cut through the fog, demystifying the whole process of interpersonal relations.