Here are 2 short activities that you can use with your team to improve communication, understanding, and team morale.  These communication activities can be part of a team meeting or used as a segment of leadership trainings.

[We would love to know your experience with these activities.  If you use them, let us know how they go in the comments below.  If they are useful, please share on Facebook, Twitter, or let others know about our site.  Thank you!]

Communication Activity #1 – Viewing Life through Other’s Eyes

What if you could see what’s going on inside someone – what they’re thinking, what they’re feeling, or what they’re going through?  Would you be more compassionate?  More understanding?

As you work with teams and are a part of teams, there is a tendency to view things from your own perspective, to see things only from your point of view.

When you begin to consider others and their thoughts, feelings, opinions, and seek to understand before seeking to be understood, then you begin to be more effective at working with people.  You become better at zooming out and seeing situations from more than one perspective.

This video, which was shown recently at one of our team meetings, shows what it would be like to see inside the thoughts and circumstances of others.

As you watch this video, ask yourself some questions:

  1. If some of my team members were going through similar circumstances, would it change the way I treat them?  Would it change how I talk to them?
  2. How do my circumstances affect my work, life, emotions?
  3. How can I be more compassionate to other’s situations?
  4. How can I get to know my team members in a way that I can be more understanding or supportive?



Debriefing the Video

1.  As you watched the video, what answers to the above questions came to mind?

2.  How would you respond differently to people if you knew what was going on in their life?

3.  How can you build relationships with others so that you can approach them with more empathy?

4.  What do you need to do in your own life to show more compassion to others?

Communication Activity #2 – Engaged Listening

For this activity, have people pair up with someone who they do not know very well.  Tell them to sit face to face with their knees almost touching.  Also, have them pick a Person A and a Person B (this will determine who goes first in each activity).

Round 1

In this round, Person A will go first and will be talking for 2 minutes about an accomplishment that they are very proud of.  If person A finishes before the 2 minutes are up, Person A and Person B have to sit quietly (no talking) for the remainder of the time.

Person B will act as if this is the most wonderful thing they’ve ever heard in their life!  Have them step into the greatest actor/actress role that they can muster.

Round 2

In this round, Person A will repeat their story from Round 1 and, again, will have 2 minutes to share about their accomplishment.

This time, Person B will act as if this is the worst accomplishment in the world.  They will again have to put on their acting hat and play the part.

Round 3

In this round, Person A will repeat their story from Round 1 and, again, will have 2 minutes to share about their accomplishment.

This time, Person B will act as if this is the most boring story that they’ve ever heard.  Again, acting hats required for Person B.

Rounds 4 – 6

As we say in our trainings, “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.”  For the next 3 rounds, have Person A and B switch roles.

Now, Person B will be sharing one of her most proud accomplishments, and Person A will put on their acting hat and go through all 3 rounds as before.

Debriefing Part One

After you have finished the rounds above, ask your team:

  1. For the speaker: what did it feel like to have the other respond to you with excitement?  With negativity?  With boredom? [Allow multiple responses.]
  2. For the “actor” – what was it like to respond in the different ways?  Was it easy?  Hard?  How did it make you feel?  [Again, allow multiple responses.]
  3. What is your normal style of communication?  When do you feel the most heard by others?

The Engaged Listening Posture – Instruction

People may have heard of active listening, but this is a bit different.  Engaged listening doesn’t require head nodding, verbal affirmations (such as “mmm hmm” or “sure”, etc.), or anything other than an open body posture, attentive listening, and paraphrasing back to the person what you heard.

Body posture

When you are practicing engaged listening, your body posture is open. Do not cross legs or arms, feet flat on the floor, with hands rested on your knees with palms up to represent an openness to listening.

While you are listening, you do not have to say anything or nod your head (in fact try NOT to do those things, and merely listen to what the person is saying).

You are present with this person and experiencing the moment with them while they are sharing.

Final Two Rounds

Have Person A go first and, again, share the same accomplishment from before for 2 minutes.  Person B practices Engaged Listening.  If Person A finishes before the 2 minutes, both persons remain quiet until the time is up.

When the time is over, have Person B paraphrase what Person A shared for 30 seconds.

Next, have Person B share about their accomplishment and Person A will practice Engaged Listening.  Again, if Person B finishes before the time is up, both are to remain quiet until the time is over.

When the time is over, have Person A paraphrase what Person B shared for 30 seconds.

Debriefing Engaged Listening

What was it like to be heard in this way?  What was it like to listen in this way?

How can you practice this with your team mates at work?  With your family at home?

What kind of difference would this make in your style of communication if you practiced this on a regular basis?


Take your team through these communication activities and answering the questions above.  What other questions would you ask your team?  How did it go?  Please share your experience with these in the comments below.  We want to know!