Picture in your mind for me the largest land animal. Are you thinking of an elephant – which is the heaviest land animal? Are you thinking of a giraffe – the tallest land animal? Did you think of a dinosaur – the largest land animal to ever live?
Communication is an essential part of human interaction; yet we rarely consider our body language, tone and words and how they affect others. Asking you to picture the largest land animal, my description was interpretative and allowed for multiple correct answers. Miscommunications occur when I expect you to have understood exactly what I meant. Miscommunication turns to frustration. Frustration to conflict.
Effective communication is a critical piece of a successful workforce. The activities in this week’s set are designed to bring out characteristics of our communication and demonstrate how easy it is to miscommunicate. Effective communication stems from two essential elements. First, bridging the gap between what I say, and what you hear. Second, believing in the best from co-workers or staff. It’s easy to jump to frustration when we assume our coworker wasn’t listening, or intentionally didn’t do what we asked. Rather, it should be our practice to assume that there’s a miscommunication, and seek to ask clarifying questions to resolve the conflict.
Use this week’s activity set to start conversations about good communication in the workplace and how to improve.
Before introducing the activity to co-workers, the facilitator should review each activity to ensure no time is wasted when the group is present.
Read aloud the instructions and the given example to your group and ensure that all participants understand the activity. Additionally, you may want to discuss what challenges the participants may experience during the exercise. This can help enhance the reflection that will follow.
Participants should engage in the activity, followed by a brief reflection of what they experienced and how it relates to communication. Continue with the next activity.
Divide your team into groups of two each. Have each person sit with their back to the other. One person will have a picture. The other person will have a blank sheet of paper and a pen.
The team member with the picture must not show the other person the image. Instead, they are to describe the image without using words that give it away, while the other team member is to draw what is being described.
For example, the picture might be of an elephant standing on a ball. The description cannot be “draw an elephant on the ball” but instead must use other adjectives and directions. After a set time limit, the drawing time ends and both team members view the original picture and the drawing.
Come up with a list of well-known pairs (think peanut butter and jelly, Mario and Luigi or salt and pepper). Write one half of each pair on the sheets of paper (Mario on one piece, Luigi on another, and so on).
Tape one paper to each person’s back, then have everyone mingle and try to figure out the word on their back. The rule: they can only ask each other yes or no questions.
Once they figure out their word, they need to find the other half of their pair. When they find each other, have them sit down and find three things they have in common while the rest of the team continues.
Salt and Pepper
Use boxes, office chairs, water bottles, etc. to create an obstacle course of “mines” within your empty space. Divide the group into pairs, where one partner is blindfolded. The other must guide that person from one end of the course to another without setting off any mines. The person guiding their partner cannot enter the course and must only use verbal instructions to get their partner through.
Depending on the number of people you have and how difficult you want this activity to be, you can vary the number of pairs trying to complete the course at the same time so that pairs have to work harder to listen to each other and communicate clearly.