In this activity, participants are tasked with writing down 10 words associated with a particular topic.
Resources: Pen and paper for each participant.
Space Required: Can be indoors or outdoors and in any space where you can fit smalls groups sitting or standing in a circle.
Group Size: Unlimited total size. Small groups between 4 to 6 or 8 to 10.
Total Time: 30 minutes
- 5 minutes to brief the activity
- 15 minutes for the activity
- 10 minutes to review and debrief
Running the Activity
- Explain the activity: The facilitator should pick a topic, such as learning, love, etc. Consult the participants by offering a few choices and having them vote.
- Then, have each participant write down the top 10 words they associate with that topic, without consulting anyone else.
- Typical words for “learning” might be: books, education, experience, growth, teacher.
- Once complete, have participants forms small groups of 4 to 6 or larger groups of 8 to 10. Each person should share their 10 words with the group. As they do, each person should note which words they share in common.
- At the end of the sharing session, have the group count to see if any individual word appeared on all of the participant’s lists.
- After 15 minutes, check with the groups for completion and move to the debrief.
- It is rare that even one word is shared by a 10-person or less group.
Suggested Learning Outcomes
- Assumption Busting
Suggested questions to ask:
- How many groups had at least one word that was shared by every participant? Two, three, more?
- What did you assume when you were asked to write 10 words associated with the topic?
- Where you surprised by how many, or how few, you had in common with your group?
- Since we use words to communicate, what does this exercise tell you about how people are taking in information?
- What assumptions do we make when we communicate?
- Have you ever had a situation where your words were interpreted differently than intended? What did you do to create clarity?
- How did this challenge remind you of communication issues in the workplace?
- What can you do to make sure your communications are received as intended?