A point of clarification. I do not mean the use of traditional role playing as experienced (usually painfully) by delegates on sales training courses or similar. I am not about to suggest that you and your coachee develop a script and set up video cameras. By role playing I mean the idea of experimenting and trying ides ‘on for size’ and there are two main ways in which this is helpful in a coaching session.
Firstly we can offer our coaches the idea of ‘practice without penalty’. If, for example, they have come up with a way forward that involves asserting their rights in response to an aggressive colleague, then you can adopt the role of the colleague and they can try out what they want to say to see what happens. Of course it won’t be real, that’s not the point. It’s simply a chance to move gently out of a comfort zone before the real thing. It can also be quite therapeutic to say exactly what they want to say with no fear of the consequences!
The other good use of role playing is where you become the coachee and they put themselves in the position of the other person with whom they are having difficulty. A great awareness raising tool and a really effective way of challenging perceptions and building empathy.