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Disc Assessor & Trainer, Soft Skills,
Soft Skill Trainer / Hr Consultant - India
Avani Bhatnagar
Manager - Training & Hr
Languages And Theatre
Officer In The Indian Armed Forces
+4 Others

I have been asked to run a communication workshop with the members of our Leadership Team. I have been researching on the internet for activities that I can run and have seem a good one around listening however I wondered if anyone else had attended something or ran something similar and could give me some advise?
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Dear Vicky,
AM not sure if I could comment without knowing what the activity is about? While you mention Listening, it does not describe much about the actual activity and what outcomes are expected of it.
We have used other activities / games centered around "sensitivity", "empathy", "listening", "expectation setting". "clarity of verbal communication", "risk", etc.
Hi Shashidhar
The purpose of the workshop is to improve communication within the business, starting with the Managers. In a recent survey we failed dismally when it came to communication and in many ways this is down to the Managers not speaking to each other and then not speaking to their teams. There is very much a culture of 'them and us' between our sales teams and our Operations teams.
The outcome is very much around improving communication around our business.
Any hints and tips you could share with me would me much appreciated.
Dear Vicky,
I understand the challenge you face... getting separate groups to open up and share information is tough. I have a some questions for you before going further:
1. Do the Sales & Ops teams work in silos?
2. Is this due to the respective departments belonging to different companies that have either merged or have been acquired by another?
3. Are the teams located in the same place geographically or spread out? Are they a homogeneous group culturally or heterogeneous?
4. Has issue been around for a long time? If so what is the diagnosis? If not then what caused the negative change in the recent past?
You might want to look at the following:
a. Lack of understanding of each others role and function within the organization
b. Trust issues
c. Low sensitivity to each other
Hello Vicky and Shashidhar,
I am also caught in a quite a similar situation. I have been asked to draft a design and a training schedule for AVPs and SEnior Managers - though I know only 3 would be attending , however, its a bit challenging to really decide and know what to include and what not to.
Also, giving feedback is going to be a challenge.
Being a Manager, I think, it is not very apt to give one-on-ones or give direct feedback as it is usually taken as criticism and ultimately falls on you, your performance and also, appraisals. Since appraisals are due, this also adds to the 'Challenge'.
My team and I are looking at purely communication and hardly any soft skills as one of the trainers may be facilitating the session and she is not very confident when it comes to members of the Leadership Team.
Kindly suggest .
Avani Bhatnagar
Manager - Training and HR
Dear Vicky,

I have read your problem and also have gone thru the suggestions of the other members towards that. The suggestions given by all your friends are no doubt sound, however, I would like to add certain imp (u may weigh as per ur requirement)steps that u may like to implement.

Session 1. Ice Breaker. Device certain activities that will make everyone attending the workshop feel at ease and open up to you and each other.

Session 2. Warm Up. Make each one go thru a few paces of discussion or interaction with a view to broadening the channel of communication within themselves and of course with you.

Session 3. Mutual Understanding. Identify (initialy) the areas where max personnel converge in their view points. That way they will further open up to the effort put in by you and veer around to the more imp agenda of communication (or lack of it) on company matters.

Session 4. Introduce Topics With Divergent Views. You must have already identified the topics where they are reluctant to discuss with each other (with a view of know all). Please encourage them to communicate with each other by taking up these issues for discussion. Better still, ask them to list out (in writing initially, then verbally) the same as per their views. Have open discussion on the subject(s). You will be the moderator here. This is, in case there arises a requirement to moderate the emotions.

Session 5. Help Them Help Each Other. Identify the more knowledgeable person (as per the topic) and request him to enlighten the environment. Thrash out as many topics of difference as possible here and on a positive note. Let the steam of ego be let out of the members.

Session 6. Feedback. Organise a system of feedback. This will serve two purposes. A. You will know how successful your workshop was. B. The members will be able to identify (pin point) their weak areas in terms of communication skills. Session 7. Closing Address. You should aim to highlight the generic issues starting from the high point (positive aspects) to the low point of the workshop. Don't get personal. Please call each member to your cabin to thrash out their individual weaknesses.

Follow Up.This is entirely your (you may depute your team) responsibility. Certain advice to your queries. How to tackle senior personnel. keeping the parameters of Session 7 in view, be as straight as possible. You are made responsible for a job. Do it right. Everyone appreciates a good job. Only use as temperate language as possible with all members (don't hurt anyone's ego). Listening Skills. Being the most important aspect of communication, let one person speak at a time and others listen (you moderate the discussion). Keep a lot of time for the entire workshop. However, stick to your planned timings. Photo/Listening Association. Have a lot of breaks with informal sessions of music, short movie clips etc (in line with your workshop to reinforce your aim). I wish you success. Please revert with your feedback when possible. Regards. Lt Col Raja Dutta
Dear Vicky
This is nothing but arrnging a program on communication, time managment etc.
Please let me know where you are actually situated. We are basically a facility mangment and training company situated at chennai. we have necessary infrastructure to run training programs here. Our clients include Wipro, TCS, CTS, Accenture etc.
If you are interested please call me at (0) 9840950574 for a brief and guide you in this aspect. Thanks. My mail ID is
Hello Vicky,

I think this is going to be a situation where you have to tread on eggshells.

Remember you are going to be dealing with massive egos and past achievements and classroom session might be a little daunting.

Therefore, a through-and-through activity session is the safest best. The debrief session could be a one where you act like a moderator or facilitator. Therefore, think about an activity which you don't really have to drive the top guns of your company. The key takeaway could be a business strategy where these top guns ideate together and you play the role of a facilitator.

One activity that comes to my mind is the "Beer Game" devised by MIT. I think this is an activity if you are looking to engage the heads of various departments. One of the key take-aways of this activity is indeed communication and surprisingly, the conventional incentive structure that encourages individual effort could be seen as the stumbling block of an enterprise that is aiming to be lean, mean and keen.

The best thing about this activity is you could use your own variation which could be representative of your company's goal and business. Perhaps you could also google for the variations.

Also, you could see some frenzied activity and you don't have to talk about communication/team effort etc. to these honchos, which in a way prevents you from preaching to the choir.


Dear Vicky,
I think what Saj has said about activity based workshop is the best way out... you try other activities as well such as "Broken Squares", "LDGM" or "Promises & Promises"... all of them could be worked about to incorporate some specific aspect of your organization.
Secondly, the debrief becomes absolutely critical. I also recommend you use an experienced external facilitator in case do not want to be on the wrong side of the equation later on. :-)
Dear Avani,
Activity based workshop is the best way, you can avoid ego clashes and any fallout later on. Try "Broken Squares" or "Promises & Promises". They are wonderful tools combining fun and mental and behavioral exercises for all participants.
As always the debrief is absolutely critical and the facilitator must be really good to do it.
You can use an experienced external facilitator if you have the budget and the approval.
Please note, working with internal facilitators has its own limitations.

Dear Vicky,

1. The 'Ice Breaker' and the 'Warm Up' sessions I had suggested were basically meant to include activities of various nature to get the individuals look beyond themselves and start thinking and functioning as a team. As far as actual activities are concerned, the net is replete with samples of activities (of both indoor and outdoor varieties) for you to chose from. You may also improvise upon the same in many different ways to make them suit your requirement. You do not need to take any advice from any of us or hire someone {(as they may be expensive(cost cutting)} to conduct such activities for you, which for all you care may not suit your requirement in the first place.

2. As for classroom sessions being monotonous, you need not restrict yourselves to classrooms for any of the activities/sessions for conducting the workshop. Take them to any outdoor location, but it is important to remember that everyone must be given the same treatment all throughout your workshop to avoid any heartburn due to preferential treatment.

3. Good luck, spread cheer and see you around later.


Lt Col Raja Dutta
To practise listening and also to allow one person to complete what they need to express, even if a bit controversial, without interruptions, the traditional North American native people's practice of using a talking stick while seated in a talking circle is useful and fun. The circle also symbolises equality with no head or position of prominence. For this, seat participants in groups in a circle, place the stick in the middle, whomsoever the stick points to speaks. You can decide how to rotate the stick - random or in turn. if you don't have the actual stick, a substitute like even a marker pen can be used.
This activity allows the group to listen actively as they will have to report during debriefing at the end.

I am a Bangalore-based softskill / behavioural skill trainer. I have conducted a variety of topics in the past one year. In fact, last Saturday I was in Chennai conducting a programme on Personal Grooming for sales personnel.

Communication Skill is a kind of thread which is the core or the basic for many skills which include Leadership skills / Team Building / or Team Management / Stress Management / Assertiveness / Customer Relations Management. Also, this is one of the grey areas for development in all organisations across the industries. If you probe into any issues in any organisation, you will find the source of problem will be lack of communication - top to bottom or bottom to top, diagonally, horizontally ie. in all directions ! lolz

Those who have the innate desire to develop their communication skills or hone their existing communication levels, can resort to any of the many options available to them. We as trainers, can only show the path, direction, through a game or two. However, as the old saying goes ' You can only lead the horse to the water but you can't make it drink ! I know of people whose skill level remain the same, even after attending several programmes durig their career !

I find lot of games on internet for many softskill training topics including communication skills. You can really pick on a few games subject to the suitability and the midset of the participants. I have failed on this front in a few organisations, as it is very difficult to make the participants to jump into the games voluntarily. You need to 'pull' them forcibly some times ! So, these days, I find out the background of the participants, their job roles etc.

So, please choose a game that will fit in well and gel well with the participants. However, please remember that the outcome or the learning from the game is more important than a 'time-pass' situation !

Best wishes
I am also facing the same challenge.Mine is a case i knw all these activities, i mean to say have undergone as an participant, but do not know the right way to run these activities.Pls help me with a link where i can find some faculty notes or guidelines as to how to run these activities.
Also i m looking for some more games and activities, on team building, conflict, management, etc pls suggest.
Also where can we get the kit for BROKEN SQUARES.
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