Not Listening Well
In order to communicate well, one must listen well. But, there are many factors which inhibit a person from fully listening to what team members have to say. Some members may be silenced or shut down so their ideas are not heard. The conversations may be dominated by a senior employee or a particularly outgoing participant. Instead of listening, team members may formulate responses or continually redirect the conversation to themselves.
This activity helps participants practice listening by requiring participants to sit quietly and listen while a partner talks about an opinion on a controversial topic for several minutes. Afterwards, the listener must repeat the position without adding any commentary.
How it works: Pair up participants or place them in small groups. Give each participant in a group a piece of paper with a controversial topic written on it. Each participant in the group should receive a unique topic. (However, the topics can be repeated for other groups.)
Note on "controversial" topics: Use your knowledge of the team members and the company to come up with appropriate topics. The more interesting the topic, the more meaningful the exercise will be. Consider topics that involve working overtime, break room rules, health care reform, unions or other topics relevant to the company or industry. If the topics are too delicate, consider having additional topics available so that a person can opt-out of a particular topic.
Give a team member three minutes to speak about the issue selected. The partner must not say anything during this period. At the end of three minutes, the partner must re-state the position presented. Repeat with the roles reversed. Option: allow a period for the listener to clarify understanding, but not rebut the arguments presented.
Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/990755
More group icebreaking games are on the next page.