As actors and directors of theater, we’re always trying to keep the story and the characters interesting. One sure fire way to not be interesting as a character is to ignore your usage of tactics. If you look at each line in a script as an attempt for your character to get something he wants, then your tactics are they way you go about getting it. Overusing the same tactics is off-putting to an audience. Think about it, nobody wants to see a movie where the leading man always gets his way by being charming, or one where the bad guy is always yelling and screaming. It’s much more interesting and engaging to watch characters use multiple tactics to get what they want.
Al Pacino is the master of tactics. In his best movies, you don’t notice as much because they blend so naturally into his character. His turn as Big Boy in Dick Tracy is a perfect example. It’s easier to point out his tactics in his not-as-good movies (like Heat) because they stick out a little more.
In the stage adaptation of Peter and The Starcatcher, Captain Hook injures himself. His reaction is a repetition of “Oh, my God” over and over and over again. To understand how this simple phrase can become more interesting through the use of varying tactics, say that phrase to a friend nine times. Pretty boring, yeah?
Now try it this way, with a little help in changing your tactics with each reading:
Which way is more interesting? More engaging? Just like when Captain Hook reacts to his pain, each “Oh, my God” is a lesson in tactics.
As team members, we need to understand the power behind tactics. It’s a perfect illustration of the benefit of face-to-face conversation. “Oh, my God” can be interpreted on paper or in an email, but it means something specific face-to-face.
As leaders, it’s important to recognize when your current tactics aren’t getting you what you want. When you find yourself spinning your wheels, it’s likely that your tactics are either overused or unnatural. Try introducing variety in your persuasion and influencing techniques. You may find that you’re more successful.
Generally, being aware of our tactics reminds us that we are all subject to the hazard of becoming Charlie Brown’s Teacher. Without variety or the element of surprise in our communications, we risk becoming noise makers without a message.