This wonderful relational exercise is offered to us by our colleague TZiPi Radonsky. TZiPi is a traveling rabbi-teacher and woman of the world, coach, writer, artist, and our associate at the Center for Creative Leadership.
Connected: An Exercise in Connecting
In a time when we are technology dependent for almost everything it is important to acknowledge commonalities, experience safe touch and eye contact, and be present with one another. This brings about a lightness of energy and an openness that fosters learning.
I learned this exercise many years ago in a Fast Company article. I am always surprised and delighted to see people’s response. A necessary element is being willing to be improvisational and planful in preparing and carrying out this exercise. In other words messiness is good.
Purpose: A great way of meeting and greeting people. An innovative way to help a group relax, laugh and learn together. A safe opportunity to support self-disclosing our private-self in a public space. Provides an opportunity to have fun.
- Make your list of categories/cultures and then be open to improvisation as you move into the exercise. Think: how do you want to pull the group together? The list needs to be varied, be courageous and trust your self, see below for suggestions.
- Time: begin with 10 -15 minutes, depending on the number of people. Trust your self on when to bring the exercise to a close.
- Have group create a circle so everyone can see each other.
- Explain guidelines by giving an example of what will happen. Do this ahead of time to warn people who will show what comes next.
- End with a ‘final connected’ such as a deep belly breath and a looking around the circle holding onto the pinky fingers of each person on either side of you and saying together ‘on 3’, ‘Connected’’ .
- Call out a category or culture and those people connected to the category will step into the circle
- All those in the circle will connect physically with each other with pinky finger and eye contact and say “connected.”
- Merge back into the larger circle at end of connecting
- When inside the circle have them look at the faces of others, ask them to breathe in what they see and then ‘connect’
Here is an interesting note: the pinky finger I learned is a direct link to the heart, so people are physically connecting and spiritually connected.
Categories to choose: all depend on the group, how deep you want to go and what issues you want them to connect on:
- Play certain musical instruments [name them]
- # of Siblings or only child
- Play a particular sport
- Truck drivers
- Sibling has died
- Pet lovers
- Never drink coffee
- Live in paradise
- Born outside the USA
- Never thought they would be working in this environment
- Parents never attended college
- Grew up in rural environment
- Know your culture.
- This life changing event
You will notice the energy rises as you get into the exercise, low energy at first then up up up! Notice and use what you see and reflect back to the group.
One participant wrote:
“I thought the exercise was very rich. Connection took on very different meanings. There were connections related to the past: how distant or recent our connection; there were connections related to what we do; and there were connections related to the future. Each category brought a different emotion. The simple connection with out pinky embodied the experience and deepened it. We were looking at ourselves as a multi-differentiated system – past, present, and future. I think the technique has good potential for any system.”