This activity is adapted from Business training works.
Ask your team to get into pairs. Explain that the object of this activity is to explore how best to offer alternatives.
One member of the pair should ask the other for something they cannot say yes to. It can be as outlandish or silly as they like. For example, “I want a pet elephant”.
The team member receiving this request should think of an alternative to offer, without directly saying no. For example, “The local pet shop has a lot of great animals which might fit better in your house. I’d recommend buying a dog. Some of them are quite big and they’re a lot easier to clean up after!”
After two rounds, swap the pairs and ask them to repeat the activity. This time, challenge them (if they haven’t already) to ask some probing questions of the requester to find out why they want what they have requested, to find a solution which more closely meets their needs.
An example of a good probing question would be “Can you tell me more about why you’d like a pet elephant?” or “Why is it important to you to own an elephant?”
Once the pairs have finished, ask the requesters whether their original request was more closely matched when they were asked a few questions about why they wanted what they did. The team will agree that this allowed them to find better solutions.