Bargaining skills

When SMing, it is definitely a good idea to learn how to negotiate before any potentially sticky situations arise. Making compromises between the designers, director(s), TD, and run crew is a difficult task, especially when the scenery is open-ended and can be arranged in many different ways (as it was in my experience). Everyone will likely want something different, but the trick is not to leave anyone totally disappointed with what you end up doing.
Even at other times during the play process, negotiation is key--for example, solving problems between two disgruntled actors or wheedling props out of a skeptical outside source.
So read a book, join the debate team, or do something that will help you develop a knack for compromises. I wish I had done something like this before the director and the assistant director/ASM/designer/director's son decided to have a battle about the scenic design using me/SM/designer in the middle on headset trying to continue running the rehearsal semi-smoothly, figure out a solution to the scenic problem and not get them to blow up at each other or me. ("Don't kill the messenger" was my motto for that day.) I guess we all learn from our mistakes, but I'd rather have not gone through that experience by being more prepared beforehand or something.

The moral of the story is that to be SM you also need to be a good diplomat, unless you want to deal with major problems later on.
diplomat skills

You are right it is a good skill to have. Another thing to work on is being able to take control of any situation. If I would have had that kind of fight over headset I would of stopped the rehearsal. And waited for them to come to the understanding that they are on headset and that is for communication of the cues for the show and not a battleground.
On the other hand in the regional theatre world the director always has the last say. It is the designers job to convince the director otherwise. but if the director says no. That's that. One thing that people need to remember is to keep their heads screaming at someone will not get them to change their mind. Calmly talking through a situation will generally get a better outcome.
I basically just asked them to continue their discussion later, and they eventually forgot about it and we worked the problem out later while confronting other issues. But yes, sound advice. I will keep that in mind if that ever happens again, which hopefully it won't. That was my first time as SM and that rehearsal situation looked a lot more daunting at the time than it does in retrospect.
One skill that goes hand-in-hand with negotiating is patience... sometimes, stopping the reh for twenty minutes can feel hugely frustrating, but if you gently facilitate a compromise between director and designers (or whatever combination of people is having an issue) then the remainder of reh will be much better, even if you are way behind schedule.


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