Have you ever met someone in a way that you somehow clicked?
You felt to be understood and intrigued at the same time, maybe you thought that you might become friends with this special someone?
It is a good feeling isn’t it?
Just imagine if you could bring this experience into your team building events!
Do people know how to connect to each other?
Let me start with a short story that inspired me to bring this special team building activity to you. This experience is very exciting and new for me as I spent the last weekend at a personal development training focusing on communication and relating more openly and honestly with each other.
I noticed something surprising there!
When I met someone new, many of my conversations started with the same questions – “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?” and so on with the same boring small talk. If I had a a weird superpower to tell well before what will the other person say next!
BUT, I experienced that the people I had the strongest connection with were the ones who we started speak about different things right from the beginning. We spoke about dreams, passions, fears and experiences… And then an hour into the conversation we realized that we skipped the usual topics and asked, “BTW, you are cool, where do you live?”
So, what is the moral of the story?
Mundane small talk does not create connections, asking “where are you from?” will not build teams.
You may say: Ok, Viktor but then how can we kick-start team building?
I am glad you asked because I brought to you one of my new favorite exercises that you can use exactly for that.
The curiosity game – build understanding and empathy between pairs in 15 minutes
This is a wonderful authentic relating / teambuilding activity to smoothly accelerate a deeper understanding between people in 15 minutes or less. In short, this game creates a situation where it is ok to ask questions that would be too deep in normal social situations. For this reason, you might also want to facilitate some lighter icebreaker exercises before jumping into this game.
This is how you facilitate the curiosity game
- Participants pair up with someone who they haven’t got to know very well.
- One person of the pair will ask questions and listens (Curious one), while the other person answers these queries (Answerer). The pair should decide who will be the Curious one for the next 10 minutes.
- Next, there will be 4 rounds.
- ROUND I: Start asking questions. In 4 minutes the curious one asks questions that he is genuinely curious about. No mundane small talk questions like “Where are you from?” (Except if he is genuinely curious about learning the answer.)The Answerer, can decide if he or she wants to answer a specific question or not.
- ROUND II: Share feedback on which questions are the most interesting to answer for the Answerer. In 2 minutes the Answerer give feedback to the Curious one about which questions she liked, and what questions she wishes that she had been asked…
- An alternative way of doing this is that the Curious one asks questions rapidly without the Answerer saying anything as an answer. What the Answerer does is to show the number of her fingers between 1-5 indicating how interested would she be to answer the specific question.
- ROUND III: Continue asking questions. In 3 minutes the Curious one incorporates the feedback he got and continue to ask questions.
- ROUND IV: Reflection of the experience. In this round, the Curious one can give back to the Answerer by sharing how he experienced her using the following three sentence beginnings. As a facilitator, you introduce these sentence beginnings one-by-one and give around 30 seconds to the Curious one to finish them.
- My first impression of you was…
- The moment I felt you the most was…
- What I really get about you is…
- Now the Answerer can give a feedback to the Curious one if she wants to.
- At this point the game ends. If you want to continue the game, then you might ask the pairs to switch roles or you can ask them to find new pairs.
Experiment to try: If you feel that your participants have a hard time to ask with genuine curiosity, try to have them imagine themselves as 7 year old kids. The reason for this is children have a genuine fascination for everything they experience in the world. Your participants might get their creative groove going through taping into this childhood sense of wonder.
Fun fact: In a research people came up with 30% more creative ideas for solving a problem when they imagined themselves as 7 year olds.
In conclusion – Connect or not to connect?
Now you know a superb tool to build teams, or simply to have more meaningful conversations with your colleagues during lunch. As you see, the game takes at least 12 minutes so I suggest to use it if you have plenty of time for your event, or if teambuilding is one of the main goals of your workshop.
If you want to experience more relationship strengthening games with similar vibe as the curiosity game, then, you might enjoy Authentic Denmark. They are organising events focusing on open & honest communication.
I feel inspired to boost idea generation processes and creativity through team building activities and games like this one! We will be experimenting with such concepts in the next few MasterMind meetup sessions in Copenhagen.
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