Have the group break off into smaller groups of 3. Place 1 of the 3 in the
center and the remaining 2 will be to either side. Give one person on the
outside a mundane topic, and the other a different mundane topic like
helicopters or panty hose. Instruct the people on the outside to talk
NONSTOP about their given topic to the person in the middle. The person in
the middle is to try to maintain both conversations as best they can.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that, when the person in the middle is addressing
one conversation, he/she turn toward that person. Continue for a minute or
2 and place a new member of the 3 in the middle.
APPLICATION: This exercise demonstrates communication on many different
levels. Initially, the person in the middle will experience sensory
overload, but, after 20 seconds or so will settle into a groove. They will
learn that they are much better listeners than they give themselves credit
for. The people on the side will also learn that they know a lot more about
pointless topics than they previously thought. Here is how to illustrate
the most important point: Ask the speakers on the side how they felt when
the person in the middle turned away from them. Likely you will get answers
like "ignored," "insignificant," "hurt" or "angry." And these were
converstions about insignificant topics. Imagine how one would feel if they
were talking about something important. Not only is this exercise a sort of
listening lay up drill, but it also illustrates what emotional effect occurs
when listening does not.
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