This is a discussion based exercise which allows group members to express opposing views about a topic without creating too much conflict. During the exercise, participants discuss a series of topics and identify positives, negatives and interesting points. Plus, Minus and Interesting can be used with the whole group, in smaller sub-groups or individually. This exercise can be used for both teaching a subject or as part of a project group.
Resources: Flip chart paper (A2 can also be used), pens
Time: 15-20 minutes (per topic)
Group Size: 8-16 people
Plus, Minus and Interesting Instructions
- On the top of the flip chart paper (or large sheet) write the topic of discussion.
- Next write or draw a plus, a minus and an I (positives, negatives and interesting).
- Begin the exercise by asking the group to identify anything they feel to be positive about the topic. Initially get them to shout out their ideas and have someone write these next to the plus. Later on in the exercise you can discuss and explore these ideas further.
- Once everyone has had an opportunity to have their say, move on to the minus and get participants to now identify anything they feel to be a negative about the topic.
- Repeat for the ‘I’ and ask them to identify anything which they find interesting, which can be explored further.
- Once this is complete you should now have a list of positives, negatives and interesting points about a topic ready for discussing.
- Explore common points and conflicts (what someone may find a positive another person may find a negative).
- Explore positives, negatives and interesting and allow the group to discuss the points in more detail. If you find the discussion has gone on long enough or it is starting to cause too much conflict, stop the group and summarise before moving on to the next point. The important thing to help the group understand that they all have different values and opinions, and no one is necessarily right or wrong.
Tips and Guidance
A good way to start to start this exercise is to open with an ‘easy’ topic such as the summer, Christmas etc. By starting with a topic everyone is familiar with, you will help the group understand the process and make them feel more comfortable when discussing subsequent topics.
One particular issue can come up in every section as what seems positive to one person could well be negative to the next. Use this as a discussion point and explore further with the group.
To generate more ideas, this exercise can also be done individually before moving on to the main group exercise above.
- Hand each person a sheet of A4 paper and a pen and get them to write the topic at the top of the paper.
- Give them a minute for each section (positives, negatives and interesting) to reflect on their thoughts and then write them down.
- At the end move on to the main group exercise above.
View more training exercises and tools