Two elements are crucial in effective communication: relaying a message and receiving a message. It is just as important to communicate the message as it is to ensure that the proper message is received. Effective communication is vital to personal and business success. Companies often provide employee training on effective communication. Through the use of games, this training focuses on speaking, listening and writing skills.
This game requires two participants and building blocks. The participants sit with their backs to each other. Participant 1 is given an object that is already built with the blocks, and he describes the object to participant 2 with enough details so participant 2 can build the object. Allow the participants three to seven minutes to complete the game, depending on the complexity of the object.
At the completion of the game, the two participants should have identical objects. If the objects are not identical, there were communication issues. The two participants should talk to each other about the message received versus the message relayed. Could different words have been used; what were the different perspectives; what type of listening skills were used? To ensure that the lessons learned translate to the office, have the participants recount real-life issues they encountered in which the message relayed was not the message received.
Without warning, begin reading a passage to the class participants. Make sure the subject is of interest and pertinent to the class. After reading the passage, ask the class questions about the story. Also ask the participants about their body language. Were they looking at the person reading the story? Were there distractions while the story was being read? Ask the participants if they were easily distracted. This exercise should help participants understand if they listen effectively and what they need to do to ensure the listener has their attention.
The first participant writes two related sentences on a sheet of paper. He then folds the paper to cover his first sentence and passes the paper to the next person. The next participant writes two related sentences based on the one written sentence she can see. She then folds the paper over so only her last sentence is seen and passes it to the next participant, and so on. The result will be a funny, nonsensical story. The lesson learned: Before responding to any email or other form of written communication, make sure you have the full story.
Hunter Taylor has been a freelance writer since 2005. She has authored articles for the "The Social Contract Journal," as well as newspapers, legislative magazines and e-newsletters for state legislators and organizations. Taylor holds a Master of Business Administration from Shorter University.