This activity is adapted from Refresh Leadership.
Closed questions can work as a huge barrier to effective communication. In this activity, your team will see the impact of closed questions on communication, and explore how they can use more open questions to gather better information and reach quicker conclusions.
Prepare the activity by writing pairs of things, each on one sheet of paper. Examples you can use could include: Salt and Pepper, Peanut Butter and Jam, Batman and Robin, Fish and Chips, Mom and Pop, Black and White, Knife and Fork, Bread and Butter, Bow and Arrow, Cat and Mouse. Write up enough for each person in your team.
If you have an odd number of team members, make sure you take part as well.
Mix up the pieces of paper and prepare some strips of tape.
Gather your team and explain that each team member will be assigned one item out of a pair – for example, if the pair is Salt and Pepper, they will have just Salt. This is written on a piece of paper which will be taped to their back. Their job is to find the person with their matching item, but they are only allowed to ask closed questions (questions with a yes/no answer) to do this.
Ask your team members to stand in a line, and tape the pieces of paper to their backs.
When you say go, let the team members walk around trying to find their matching pair. This should be a fairly tricky activity! When you see a pair succeed in finding and identifying each other, ask them to sit down.
If the activity is dragging on and you need to finish it, announce to the team that they can now use open questions. The game should then finish very quickly!
Ask your team to discuss how difficult this felt, and what strategies could have helped. They should be able to recognize that different questions are useful in different situations.