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Remember all the times you’ve stopped and asked people for directions, and they’ve said “oh yeah that’s easy, go down here, turn left, first right, follow the road round and take the second left it’s on your right”. I don’t know about you but I’m lost after the first set of instructions and usually they speak so fast you don’t have time to take it in. Obviously if you can write it down all the better, or draw a diagram and repeat it back. However if the instructions are vague in the first place you’ve got no chance. What can we do to become more precise with our communication? In this instance a few landmarks would help like a church, mail box, café etc; also rough distances “down” the road. If all fails buy a GPS!
Here’s a few ideas to get you started – we’ve got lots of other communication icebreakers and games in our "Incredible Ice Breaker Games & Ideas" ebook
Communications Exercise 1 - Grapevine
Write a set of travel instructions such as the instructions below. Work in pairs and give one pair the instructions to read to their partner. First, have the partner recall the message without asking questions – not so good huh? Second, have them ask questions and you’ll get a better understanding. 2 way communication is always more accurate. Remember this when you have to give instructions to people. Always check for their understanding.
“Mike said you need to catch bus number 32 from Market Street and get off on Brown Street. Walk down the street to Claridges, turn right down a small lane to Brown Street, follow Brown Street for 500 yards turn right down Cooper’s Alley and Mr Smith’s shoe shop is on the left.”
- What’s wrong with the directions?
- How could they be improved?
Communications Exercise 2 - Chinese Whispers
The classic children’s game is a brilliant example of one-way communication. Write down a message on paper around 3 lines long. Get everyone in-line and whisper the message to the first person who then passes the message to the second person and onto the third and all the way down the line. The receivers can only listen, they cannot ask questions. When it reaches the end the last person gives the message out aloud. The facilitator will read out the original message and compare.
Communications Exercise 3 - Blind Object
Write down the words of an object on 10 cards. You will need a set of 10 cards for each pair. Get each pair to sit on chairs back to back. Give the cards to one of the pair. When you start the exercise each person must describe the object to the other person without using the name of the object. The other person must guess what the object is without asking questions. They must keep guessing until the correct answer is given, they move onto the next object. The first pair to get all answers right are the winners! Depending on the objects chosen this can often be a hilarious game. The success of the game is in the ability to give accurate descriptions under pressure as well as listening well. Not being able to see the person and ask questions increase the difficulty.
Communications Exercise 4 - "You're Not Listening To Me!"
Do you ever catch yourself saying to someone “you’re not listening to me!”
What is it they are doing to offend you? Working in pairs get one person to describe a story or incident to the other person. The other person has to avoid listening. Often this will involve not looking at the other person eye to eye; staring vacantly into space; not reacting to the conversation, not giving acknowledging signs such as yes or nodding etc; turning their back to the other person, distractingly fiddling with something, tapping a pen impatiently, texting, taking mobile phone messages, doing something else entirely, reading etc. etc.
When each person has a go at being the storyteller and the receiver discuss how it felt not to have that person’s full attention. Ask the group to make a list of other things people do or don’t do that hinders communication
If you would like to learn more Communication Icebreakers & Games, you will find a whole section devoted to Communication Icebreakers in our fabulous Corporate Icebreakers Ebook. Click here to find out how you can instantly download a copy of our "Incredible Icebreaker Games & Ideas" ebook.