7 Fun Communication Games That Increase Understanding

Communication is essential to life. Whether work or personal, life goes smoother when you communicate well.

But communication is a problem for many people. Even leaders have issues making themselves understood at times. In fact, the better you might think you are communicating, the worse it often is.

A study at the University of Chicago found that when subjects spoke with someone they knew well, they communicated just as well as with strangers.

“Our problem in communicating with friends is that we have an allusion of insight. Getting close to someone appears to create the illusion of understanding more than actual understanding,” according to the study co-author Nicholas Epley.

George Bernard Shaw had it right when he stated “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Poor communication has real consequences. It can be as benign as missing a movie with a friend, to more seriously missing a deadline at work. There are negative outcomes when we are not getting all the necessary facts, or not expressing them properly.

The good news, though, is that successful communication can be learned. Like most skills, you can get better with more practice.

Here are 7 games to help you and your workers improve your communication skills.

1
Card Pieces

Card Pieces consists of separating groups of 3 or 4 into at least 3 teams. Each team will then receive an envelope of mixed cut up playing cards. The teams then have a set amount of time to barter and trade in order to complete their cards. The team with the most completed cards wins.

Heart and brain, symbolizing empathy.

The game works well because it builds negotiation skills and empathy, which are key components of communicating effectively. Negotiation skills help people navigate to the most successful (or win-win) outcomes. They also help them to deal with less successful outcomes skillfully.

Empathy helps people to see things from another’s perspective. This helps them tailor their communication more effectively. Not everyone communicates the same, so being able to adjust and understand another’s communication style is key.

2
Blindfold Game

This game entails breaking off everyone into teams of two. One member is blindfolded and navigates an obstacle course relying on the shouted directions of the other member.

Blindfold Game works because it builds trust, listening and instructional skills. Trust among team-members is crucial for effective communication. It encourages cooperation and successful teamwork. Lack of trust, though, builds suspicion and prevents buy-in.

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Clarity in giving instructions is a must for effective customer service, especially in technical fields. When customers have a difficult time understanding technical directions, the temptation is to use more words to explain.

In reality, the more words technicians use, the more confused customers will get. Brevity and a careful use of words is key for better understanding.

Lisa McLeod explains it best in her article on effective communication, “Sharing too much information lessens your impact, especially if you share it in big, long droning sentences, like the Charlie Brown teacher.”

3
Building Blocks

Building Blocks starts by having a team of 4 and 2 identical sets of building blocks. One is a director, one is a builder, one is a runner and one is an observer.

Blocks.

The director and builder are across the room and their backs are to each other. The director has their structure already built and must give directions to the runner who will relay them to the builder. The builder must then use the directions to create an identical structure that the director has.

This game builds descriptive and instructional skills, as well as teamwork. Task division in teams helps with efficient completion of projects. However, there must be cooperation, effective communication and trust in order to work. Building Blocks helps foster these important parts of teamwork.

If your team is a larger group, you can split into separate teams and see who completes it best. If you have a smaller group, the director can give directions directly to the builder without a runner.

4
Crazy Comic

In this game from the book 104 Activities that Build by Alanna Jones, everyone is divided evenly into groups. Each group must come up with their own comic strip.

Each person is responsible for one frame of the strip, so the comic’s length is based on how many people are in each group (three people make a three-frame comic, for example). Each team has a set amount of time to discuss what the comic will be about, what each person will draw, etc.

Everything must be discussed in detail because once they start drawing, there is no interacting with the other team members. They cannot even look at what the other members of their team are drawing. Afterwards, all the teams come together to look at and discuss their comics.

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Crazy Comic works so well because it encourages teamwork, standardization, and coordination. The most effective teams organize themselves with minimal help needed from leaders. This is an excellent game, then, for distributed teams to practice cohesion of vision across components.

This game can also work with team members in separate locations, such as some working remotely. They can work verbally over the phone or skype to create the comic.

5
Four at a Time

In a room of sitting people, only four can be standing at a time. The four can only stand for 10 seconds before they must sit down and be immediately replaced by someone else. However, the trick is that there is no speaking during the game. All communication about who will stand or sit must be non-verbal. The goal is to keep the game going as long as possible.

American Football, symbolizing team sport.

Four at a Time is great for teaching non-verbal communication and teamwork. Non-verbal communication is essential in a group sales environment. Team members can help each other while keeping a customer engaged.

Practicing teamwork helps members gel effectively so in operational environments they can function more cohesively.

This game works best in large groups. The larger the group, the better the non-verbal communication must be. Its simplicity means that it can be played almost anywhere.

6
Get It Together

One member of a two-person team is blindfolded. The blindfolded member must retrieve specific items from the center of the circle based on directions given by their partner. The game gets more complicated as another two-person team joins the fray. Eventually, the game becomes impossible because of the number of teams added into the game.

Get It Together builds focus and encourages teamwork. Practicing teamwork helps members work effectively so in operational environments they can function more cohesively. Building focus is important for concentrating on the person you’re communicating with despite any distractions that may be present.

This game works best in large groups in order to increase the difficulty in the game. The more chaos by the end, the better!

7
Misunderstanding

This game entails two persons who must sit back-to-back. The first person has an object and must describe it (without explicitly saying what the object is) to person B. Person B must then draw it based on person A’s description.

8 Causes of Miscommunication and Misunderstanding

The first step in fixing miscommunication is understanding where things go wrong.

Understand misunderstanding

The game Misunderstanding helps drive creative communication. Finding creative ways to communicate despite barriers builds problem-solving skills. No communication works exactly the same and creativity is required to make sure effective communication happens each time.

This game can be adapted for larger groups by working in teams of two. It can then become a competition based on who has the most accurate drawing.

Games - key to better communication

Practicing communication should be an ongoing part of personal and professional development. These communication games are great to reach for time and again in all settings. They are useful for honing the all-important skills required for effective communication.

Also check out our posts on customer service training games and sales games.