One way to build trust is to learn about people. When we learn about people’s backgrounds, interests, and perspectives, we begin to understand who they are. This deeper understanding and willingness to share our histories creates a bond and connection.
"Step in the Circle" is designed to encourage people to share their lives with each other. In about 10 minutes you will learn things about your team, that you never knew.
I experienced this activity at a workshop with about 90 people present. The leaders wanted to quickly break down barriers and create some bonding by asking us to open up and share information about ourselves. Some of their questions were personal and required the willingness to be vulnerable to answer them. I was amazed at the range of emotions I had while responding and watching others step in and out of the circle.
This activity could also be done with light-hearted and fun questions or even with questions focused on the team. Our leaders mixed it up by asking some fun and very personal questions.
This can work with any size group if you have a large enough space so that everyone can see each other.
Instructions to Perform Step in the Circle Activity
- Ask everyone to form a large circle.
- Read a series of statements and anyone who can answer “yes” takes a step into the circle.
- After each question, each person steps back to the full circle.
- Repeat steps 2 and 4, asking 10-25 questions.
Below are examples of questions you might ask depending upon the purpose of this activity. Feel free to make up your own too.
Light-hearted personal statements:
- I have traveled out of the country.
- I plan to go back to school in the next three years.
- I have a tattoo.
- I talk in my sleep.
- I have a pet... two pets... three pets... etc.
- I play a musical instrument.
- I collect something.
- I was the class clown.
- I exercise at least three times a week.
- I have a book on my bedside table.
Deep (More Personal) statements:
- I am an only child…I have one sibling… two siblings… three siblings, etc.
- My parents are divorced.
- I have been married.
- I have been divorced.
- I have been married for five years… 10 years… 15 years, etc.
- I have a child… two children, etc.
- I have lost someone very close to me in the last two years.
- I am a survivor of a serious health condition.
- I have lost a parent.
- I have been very poor at some point in my life.
Team Related statements:
- I understand my role on this team.
- I often think about work on my time off.
- There is at least one person on the team I’d like to know better.
- I have an idea for our team that I have never shared.
- I hate team activities like this one.
- I love team activities like this one.
- I would be willing to lead a lunch and learn about a topic I love for this team.
- I think our team is collaborative.
- I would like to make some improvements to our meetings.
- I am excited about the work we do together.
Use the Step in the Circle activity when you want to get a group to break down barriers and get to know each other. Decide which questions you want to ask to allow for meaningful and/or fun discoveries about the team or group.
About the Author: Leigh Ann Rodgers, Founder of Better Teams and Forward, is an IAF Certified Professional Facilitator with 20 years of experience in the human development field. Leigh Ann is a skilled meeting facilitator, trainer, and coach working across the globe to help leaders cultivate teams that are happy and high-performing.
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