These are ideas that the RCO can use at the beginnings of meetings as part of helping students get to know one another, develop relationships and understand the diverse viewpoints present.  

Self-Disclosure Introductions – 1 

To provide innovative ways of introducing members to each other, build team spirit and learn more about each other. To help establish self-disclosure as a team norm. 

Instruct participants to take 2 items (e.g., family pics, credit cards, rabbit’s feet, chapstick) from purses, wallets, backpacks, pockets. When introducing themselves to the group, they should use whatever they took out to help describe themselves in at least two ways (e.g., “I am superstitious, I like to spend money, I am family focused, I have a weakness for business cards etc.) 

Tip:  allow 1 minute per person 

This is not just for newly formed teams. Can also be used as an effective meeting warm-up with established teams. There is always something new team members can learn about one another that builds relationship and trust. 

Self-Disclosure Intro – 2 

Ask each team member to state his/her name and attach an adjective that not only describes a dominant characteristic but also starts with the first letter of their name (e.g., Serious Stan, Mathematical Mary, Bicycling Bill, Creative Cathy etc.) 

Tip: allow 1 minute per person. Invite members to explain how their chosen characteristic illustrates or improves the way they work. 

Self-Disclosure Intro – 3 

Group members introduce themselves by name but also provide a nickname that they now have, once had, or would be willing to have if they could pick their own. 

Tip: allow 1 minute per team member. If time allows – encourage members to circulate and explore the reasons behind the announced nicknames.

Team Discovery 

To create team identity by helping members discover more about each other.

Establish asking for information and self-disclosure as team norms. 

  1. Ask the team members to brainstorm a list of provocative questions they would like to have each other answer (and that they would be willing to answer).
  2. Write these down in front of the group.  
  3. Have them screen the list and delete those in questionable taste, and select 2-3 that everyone feels most comfortable with.
  4. Proceed to have each team member provide answers to the questions.

Tip: allow 1 minute for each person. 

Most? Best? Greatest? 

To encourage disclosure of personal information among team members. Develop a norm of sharing, break down facades, and increase awareness of each other’s experiences. Select one provocative question for each meeting. You may choose either to announce it in advance (to give members time to think) or to introduce it on a spontaneous basis. To save time, ask each person to respond in 25 words or less.  Then call on each person to give their self-report.  

Examples of good questions include: 

  • What is your greatest achievement?  
  • What was the happiest day of your life? 
  • What is your most prized possession? 
  • What was the most fun you ever had? 
  • What is your dream vacation like? 
  • What is the best book you have ever read? 
  • Who is your most admired person? 
  • If you could have a T-shirt printed with a message, what would it say?

The I’s Have It! 

To show that team members tend to be more self-centered than they might realize. To demonstrate the importance of focusing on other people. 
Casually bring up after the introductions at the beginning of the meeting that many of us forget about focusing on others and instead become somewhat self-centered, albeit not in a conscious or arrogant way. With this in mind, ask the participants to find a partner and for the next 2 minutes, talk about anything in the world they want to discuss. There is one rule however: they cannot use the word “I”. They can do anything else they want; they just can’t say “I”. 

Follow up with these discussion questions:

  • How many of you were able to talk for those 2 minutes w/o using the pronoun “I”? 
  • Why do so many of us have difficulty avoiding the (over) use of “I” in conversation?
  • How do you feel when talking to; and listening to someone who starts every sentence with “I”?
  • How can we phrase our communications to better focus on the other person? 
  • If you did not use the word “I”, what strategies did you use to avoid it?
  • Could you do those things more often in your work, school or social environment? 

Tips: another version is to give each pair the instruction only to talk for 2 minutes, however the member not speaking is to count how many times “I” is used by the person speaking.  Then report to the group after everyone is done speaking. 

Arrivals & Departures:

Group size 6-12 
Low activity 

2-5 minute time frame
Props:

  • 1 - 8 1/2x11 sheet of paper folded in ½. On one half write arrival and on the other half write departure.
  • White board or overhead projector

Instructions:

  1. Write Arrivals and Departures on the white board/overhead projector
  2. At the end of the session write all of the answers on the white board/overhead so everyone can see
  3. Explain that when we take personal responsibility for our own actions, we take the time to examine our own behaviors to decide whether to keep, modify, or change them to get the results we want.
  4. Ask participants to consider the behaviors they choose to keep or would like to implement as arrivals, and the behaviors they would like to get rid of or change dramatically as departures.
  5. Ask each person to talk with a person next to them about behaviors they have been in touch with during the session and identify at least one arrival and one departure that they are committed to working on.

Variation: If the group is small, ask each person to talk about arrivals and departures aloud Tip:  Ask the group for stories about observations on arrivals and departures. 

Constructive Feedback: 

Group size 6-12 
Medium activity 

3-6 minute time frame
Props:  Box; 30 pieces of wadded paper

Your participants will value the benefits of constructive feedback as they try to accomplish a goal that is not possible without feedback from their peers. It works best with a small group of people who can all participate. Use it any time in a program to introduce the value of feedback. Conceptual thinkers will make the most of the activity if you ask them to draw conclusions; concrete thinkers will appreciate the experiential demonstration.

  1. Ask for one volunteer
  2. When that person comes forward, position the volunteer in a standing position and place an empty cardboard box somewhere behind them, but NOT directly behind.
  3. Place the 30 pieces of wadded within reach of the volunteer
  4. Explain to the group that their job is to give clues to the volunteer that will help them to throw the wads into the cardboard box without turning around. Give examples of clues such as “a little further to the left”
  5. Begin the activity
  6. About halfway through the activity, remind the volunteer of some of the clues given.  Ask which ones were actually helpful and why that was true.
  7. Ask the group to describe what is true about feedback based on what occurred in the exercise

Variation: If you have fewer than 7 people and more than 5 minutes; ask them all to stand in a square and do the activity for each person, one at a time. 

Tip: Points to make if they don’t come from the group: In this situation, feedback was expected and welcome. One person could not make the goal in a timely manner without hearing other perspectives and suggestions. When the goal was accomplished, everyone participated in enjoying the success. 

I Wish, I Wish….. 

To determine real problem areas in a team or organization.
Materials needed: 3x5 cards 

At a meeting, point out the importance of periodically checking on the levels of team cohesiveness, cooperation, and member satisfaction. Tell members that the next activity will be one of those periodic check-ups. Distribute 3x5 cards and ask members to write their answers to the questions you will ask.  There is no need to sign names. 

  1. You will collect the cards, review them, synthesize the information and report the results at the next meeting.  Alternatively, ask for a volunteer to collect the cards, synthesize the info and report at the next meeting (whichever way is fine). 
  2. Ask the following question: “If you could change anything about the teams’ mission or way of operating, or anything your role on team, what would be on your wish list? 
  3. Encourage team members to be honest and point out that all comments on the cards are anonymous. 
  4. Discussion Questions 
  5. What do you like best about your roles and functions on the team? 
  6. If you were Queen/King for a day, what would you change about the team? In the organization? What could we do to make your role better (easier, more fun, clear expectations etc.) What would the officers answer as their wish? 
  7. What would the other members have on their wish lists? What 
  8. prevents us from making these changes? 
  9. What might be the potential gains from these changes? 

When sharing the results of the survey with the team, do not attribute specific comments to any particular individual. As a team, discuss items on the collective wish list.  Decide which suggestions to implement and by when.