The Status We're In
So if anyone was paying attention to the post that I wrote a couple of days ago, they might have gotten to the end of it and felt a bit down (I think I did). So I suppose it's important that I follow it up with some suggestions on how to deal with these tactics. Most of my inspiration for this comes from work and writings of Keith Johnstone, author of the books "Impro" and "Impro for Storytellers".
Because this is a notebook, I don't have to put down all the linking material here. I know that I would have to do that if I were doing a course or a writing a book - but for now, just getting down the bare facts is fine. Just a couple of observations from Johnstone to get us going.
When improvising a scene (and this is what, in some sense, every project meeting is), the most important thing to know is what status to play and to pay attention to status transactions.
When dealing with high status people, you have to raise your status to either just below or the same level as theirs.
Status isn't about big jumps, it's about tiny gradations.
There are different kinds of high status, at least two - cold/angry high status (Gordon Brown, most head masters) and happy high status (George Clooney, Boris Johnson), I think there's probably at least another one - shouty high status (Hitler, Malcolm Tucker, any sergeant major). Then there's the "dirty raincoat brigade" who look harmless/clueless but actually always get their man - Columbo, Rumpole and also their clean counterparts - real curiosities like Jeeves and Sir Humphrey Appleby
Malcolm Tucker - shouty high status
Really quickly, because it's a massive topic. Some things that you can do elevate your status:
- keep your head level
- take substantial pauses before you speak
- talk lowly and slowly
- don't touch your head
- project yourself out into the space which you're occupuying
- (if you're going for happy high status) smile
Some things that you can do to lower your status:
- talk in the high register (for your voice) and talk quickly
- hesitate and stutter - say "erm"
- touch your head as if you were touching the brim of your cap or tugging your forelock
- look pained, even if you're smiling
- fold into yourself and reduce the space that you're occupying
So I suppose the question is, how do we use what we know about status. Thinking about this now, I realise that the way of "defending" yourself against attacks on "T's and C's" Timing, Competence, Commitment and Consistency is about complexification. And that's what I'll talk about in the next post.