We practice our patterns in pairs. One Actor, practising the pattern, and one Nudger, supporting the Actor in using the pattern cleanly.

Sometimes we work in threes, with an observer.

The role of the Nudger

The nudger is there to nudge, and only nudge. The nudger there to do nothing other than nudge the actor by asking again and again and again whichever question is being practised. To help the actor take a step past where they usually stop. To take one more step on the Actor’s own path. Using only the pattern that is being practised in the dojo.

As Nudger you are absolutely not allowed to give advice, to coach or to counsel. Not, in any way, try to fix, change or point towards a solution.No matter how tempting it is!

As Nudger you can do this better the more he or she is able to truly listen, to hear what the actor is saying. In voice, body language or tone of voice.

You help the actor take the steps they want to take in the direction they want to move in. The Actor’s direction maybe very different to the direction you as Nudger might take. Nonetheless you as nudger must go where the actor wishes to go to.

So you as Nudger ought to have unconditional positive regard for the actor. Nudge the actor, strictly within the pattern, and only to move as far and as fast as he or she feels is appropriate.  

One comment everyone makes after taking part in their first dojo is how valuable it is to just have the opportunity to talk. The opportunity to voice your thoughts without any fear of comment, judgement, praise or criticism of the content of your thoughts. A space where you can voice your thoughts with just a little bit of support to use a structure to think with.

A space to voice the thoughts that you almost but not quite about to voice. Perhaps at the tip of your tongue or just a little bit out of sight at the back of your head. where a very gentle nudge helps you to find them.

The safe space for the actor to explore the edges of the stage that they usually act on, and to stretch that stage, to make it that little bit bigger.

This is the core role the Nudger needs to do. So the Nudger needs only two things:

  1. to have at least as good an ideaof the pattern that is being practiced as the actor has
  2. to stick to the limits of the role of Nudging: only support the actor in the pattern by reminding them in the purest possible form what the pattern is. For example, just saying the word “and” in pattern 1.

This means never telling the Actor what to do in the situation the actor’s exploring. Never saying “you should do this”. 

The role of the actor

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players

Shakespeare, As you like it.

You are the Actor of your world. And your world has two parts; there’s the world you are aware of, and the rest. All your thoughts, feelings, actions and reactions are come only from the part you’re aware of.

The Dojo is a safe space to learn better ways of expanding the part of your world that you’re aware of. Becoming aware of more of what your world really really is and has.

Your world is your stage. You can think of the Dojo as a safe rehearsal stage created specifically to explore how  you could act differently when you’re on the real stage of your life. The Dojo is a stage where you can practice many new patterns, and begin losing patterns from long ago. Patterns that worked on past stages, but that may now no longer be your best friends.

You only need to do one thing; practice the pattern in it’s purest, cleanest form. That’s the best way to master it. Then you’ll be able to use it fluidly in outosde the Dojo, on the real stage of your life.

The role of the observer

The Observer supports the Nudger in holding a safe space for the Actor.

The biggest contribution the observer makes is to fully hear both the Actor and the Nudger.

Rare as it is for any one to be given  a safe space a big enough space for them to speak as much as they want without fear of judgment or criticism; it is even less common for two people in such a dialogue to have the gift of a person holding space for both of them. Listening and watching what is really happening from an external perspective. Enabling both of them to explore an even bigger space than they might just between themselves.

The one pattern that the observer must be fluent in before taking on the role of observer is the pattern of giving feedback. Read more here about the pattern of giving feedback.

To be able to do this you must be fluent in two other patterns. Firstly the observer ought to be fluent in holding space; in other words the pattern of active listening. And then also in the pattern being practised.

Usually every participant in the dojo rotates between the roles of Actor, Nudger and Observer in every Dojo.

The role of the dojo host

The host plays all of the roles in a dojo. The host is just a participant, usually a participant with more experience in the patterns. The dojo host plays all the roles above, and especially a role that is best described as the observer of the whole dojo.

The primary contribution of the the dojo host is to observe the whole; to hold a safe space for all the actors or the nudgers or the observers. Everything that is happening in the context, that it’s happening in the processes through which everything is happening. How the relationships are emerging, And where necessary to nudge the whole dojo in directions that will help the whole develop and improve and grow.