Here is an activity that I use for communication Skills workshop for the listening section. This is how this activity is conducted:
Time taken for the activity: 10 minutes.
Time taken for debriefing: 20 minutes
Material needed: A sheet of paper with geometrical pattern. I have attached a geometrical pattern that I have created. You can use the same pattern or create a new pattern.
Activity: Break the participants into groups of 5. Ask them to select a leader from amongst themselves. Give a sheet of paper with the geometrical pattern to the leader. Give a blank sheet of paper to each of the other group members.
Take the leaders of all the groups aside and instruct the leaders that they have to sit facing away from their group members (with their backs to their group) in such a way that they can neither see the paper in thier hands nor his expressions. They have to explain the pattern on their paper to their group in such a way that they should be able to draw it on their papers. The leader is also not allowed to use his hands to gesticulate. Do not give instructions about whether the group members can ask him questions or not but during the activity, the trainer must observe whether any of the groups asks questions.
Instruct the group members that they have to reproduce whatever their leader tells them to draw.
Start the activity. Tell them that they have 10 minutes for the activity. Observe the leader and the group members and the interaction.
Stop the activity at the end of 10 minutes.
Tip: More often than not, the group members are unable to reproduce the pattern. They blame the leader for not being able to communicate well or for not knowing the correct terms for the geometrical patterns or for the noise in the room or insufficient instructions by the trainer about whether questions can be asked to the leader etc.
Debrief: Initiate a discussion on what went wrong and what worked for the groups, what could have worked well and have helped them achieve their target. Draw parallels to what stops us in life during communication.
This is a fantastic activity to focus learning on barriers to communication and assumptions we make about communication.
I have used this previously & the benefits are immense. For example, Everyone understands importance of communication, but few realize the perceptions behind the communication. More so if you are dealing with cross cultural audience.
This exercise is an excellent tool to put the point across to the learners.
As reply to a previous comment, the diagram is not supposed to make any sense but it is a very diagram containing geometric symbols.
From Qatar, Doha
Great stuff. Just what I've been looking for. This will make the workshop interesting and will show the candidates that what is said and meant is not always heard and understood in the same way as it was intended..
From South Africa, Durban
Effective way to help explain Barriers of communication . Do keep posting I believe its the best way for the Trainers to exchange Ideas for self & Group Productivity
From India, Hyderabad
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