Who Am I?
Type of Activity: Processing / Illustrate components of self (conscious, sub-conscious)
Props Needed: One blue, green, and red index card per person; one writing utensil per person
Set Up: Let’s do an activity that helps us understand what drives who we are and why we might act the way we do. 5 minutes for the activity; 10 minutes for debrief. You can connect the debrief to lecture Theory of conflict and/or self awareness. Can use with any size group. Distribute a blue, green, and red index card to each participant.
Process: Start with the blue index card. Ask participants to write on the blue card the information they share freely with others when they first meet someone. It does not matter if the greeting is in a work environment or personal, social environment. Ensure the group that it does not matter what they write down. It could be as simple as their name. As the facilitator, it is appropriate for you to participate in this activity as a model for the group. Then ask everyone to place his or her blue index card to the side.
Next, invite everyone to take out their green index card. Assure participants that while they are with you today, they will never need to share what is on this card. After they write on this card, it will get folded up and put in their pocket. (It is very important to stress this point.) Remind them if they do not want anyone at home to see what they write on the card that they should destroy it before they go home. On the green index card, ask participants to write down something that they share about themselves after they get to know someone. Perhaps it has been several weeks or months since first meeting this person. What are the things they share with others at this point? Explain it does not matter what is written. They can write in code, with question marks or pictures, or whatever they feel comfortable doing. There is power in writing, so ensure that everyone puts something down.
As they are writing, reiterate that they do not have the share what they have written down. After they have finished, ask them to fold their card and put it in their pocket. If they do not have a pocket, ask them to sit on the card.
Now ask everyone to take his or her red index card. Again, assure them that while they are with you today, they will never need to share what is on this card. After they write on this card, it will get folded up and put in their pocket. (Again, it is very important to stress this point.) On the red index card, ask participants to write down something that they rarely share about themselves with others. In fact, it may be something they have never shared before.
As they are writing, reiterate that they do not have the share what they have written down. After they have finished, ask them to fold their card and put it in their pocket. If they don’t have a pocket, ask them to sit on the card.
After everyone is finished, explain the following:
“It doesn’t matter whether it is organizational or individual, but we live in the world of the blue index card—this is what we say and how we say it. However what drives the world of the blue index card is our green and red index cards.” For effect, pull yours out and place them behind the blue index card.
Continue by saying: “Now, to be effective we don’t need to uncover our red index cards at work—they are too personal. However if we want to be effective in the workplace (and at home) we need to discover ways to allow the green index cards to come out in safe, non-retributional ways—in ways that build awareness and understanding.”
Continue by saying: “The difficult part, however, is that what constitutes a green card to one person is really a blue card to another.” Use examples here like one co-worker went to the grocery store last night (hold up your blue index card), but the way they describe the experience was straight from an episode of the television show Cops. Anything that could happen happened. The other co-workers say to themselves: ‘Wow—your friend was arrested last night? That’s too much information—you shouldn’t be telling me this at work.’ (Hold up your green index card.)
- Why it is difficult to share green cards? Answers generally include: It’s uncomfortable, it’s a risk, I get in trouble, we don’t do this in our personal lives so why would I do this in my work life, etc.
- What are the benefits of sharing green cards? Answers generally include: It builds bridges and awareness between others, we don’t have to worry about what one is thinking because we know, etc.
- How do emotional triggers affect how we handle conflict with one another?
- Emotional triggers are things that set us off. It’s easy to stay at the blue card level in life. It is a risk to go to the green card level. Allowing ourselves to share things at the green card level creates more valuable experiences.
This activity connects very well to the following theories/books:
- Johari Window
- Crucial Conversations/Crucial Confrontations
- Emotional Intelligence
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