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This week we feature an article by Michelle Jarsen who shares seven ways your support team can learn and practice essential communication skills. Any job that involves interacting with people requires clear communication. It’s crucial that your support team learns and practices new ways of exchanging information and ideas. Good communication isn’t a skill you’re […]
This week we feature an article by Michelle Jarsen who shares seven ways your support team can learn and practice essential communication skills.
Any job that involves interacting with people requires clear communication. It’s crucial that your support team learns and practices new ways of exchanging information and ideas.
Good communication isn’t a skill you’re born with or one that comes naturally. While there are plenty of things you can read and watch that might give you some tips and advice on how to communicate better, reading alone doesn’t cut it.
“The more your employees communicate, the faster their communication skills improve” . – Hugh Beaulac, MC2 Bid4Papers.
Instead, why not practice those skills in your team in a way that’s as fun as it is effective?
Games are an exciting way to improve communication skills and simultaneously improve team cohesion. Here are seven games your team can play to improve communication skills.
1. Blindfold Game
This game helps strengthen listening and speaking skills and improves trust.
What you need: ● 4 people or more ● Blindfolds ● An open space, like a private room, backyard or park
● Your choice of obstacles (boxes, chairs, a stack of books)
Directions: Make teams of two. Once you’ve decided which team will start, blindfold one member from that team. The other players can place obstacles in various spots throughout your space. Have the blindfolded member stand at the start of the course. The non-blindfolded member of the team must guide her through the course only by speaking.
This game improves cooperation and teamwork, as well as trust. When trust is lacking, the team won’t be as successful because the blindfolded person might be too suspicious and timid to move.
Clear communication is essential here because your team member is relying on you to guide her through the obstacles safely. This activity pushes you to choose your words carefully and to speak confidently.
Communicating clearly and effectively is key when working with customers. Clarity will help your team minimize confusion and assist customers fast and more successfully.
2. Crazy Comic
This is from the book “104 Activities That Build” by Alanna Jones. Crazy Comic targets teamwork, cooperation, coordination and creativity.
What you’ll need: ● 3 people or more ● Pencils or other drawing utensils of choice ● Paper
Directions: Divide each team evenly, depending on the number of players you have. Each group will create a comic strip, with the number of strips equivalent to the number of players in each team. Set aside time at the beginning of the game to discuss what the comic will be about and what each person will draw.
Agree on an amount of time that should be allotted for drawing. Seat team members far away from each other so that they aren’t able to see what the other person is drawing. When the time is up, assemble each comic and discuss how successful it was in sticking to your original plan.
Cooperation is a major part of this game since a leader isn’t chosen. The team members depend on each other to carry out a cohesive vision, which mimics the reality of working together in project teams.
This game mirrors what working in a digital environment is like where people aren’t always around to discuss each step of a process. By discussing the issues that arose during the game, you can better troubleshoot similar issues you might experience in the office.
3. Card Pieces
Card pieces is an easy game that helps develop negotiation skills and improve understanding and empathy.
What you need: ● 9 people or more ● Private room or space ● Triangle cards (use different colored paper, fold into a square and cut diagonally, then diagonally again) ● Plain envelopes
Directions: Divide groups of 3-4 people into at least three teams. Collect the triangle cards you’ve made, mix them up and divide them according to the number of teams you have. Place the cards in an envelope and give one to each team. Teams must negotiate and trade their pieces with each other to complete a square of one color. The team that has the most completed squares wins.
For this game, members must be able to trade with one another, which practices negotiation, listening and empathy. By working in groups, members must attempt to achieve the greatest good for their team, not for themselves.
After you’ve played the game, discuss which negotiation methods worked better and which didn’t work so well; try to come to an understanding of why some methods were stronger than the others. Also, talk about how you tried to see the game from someone else’s perspective to help you get more cards. Did you change communication methods depending on the person you were talking to? It’s important to see how communication techniques you use to talk to one person won’t necessarily work with another person.
4. Building Blocks
Building blocks work on your communication and teamwork skills and helps you learn how to give clear and descriptive instructions.
What you’ll need: ● At least 4 people for a team; only 1 team necessary ● Blocks or anything stackable (books, Tupperware, etc.) ● A table (if your stacking objects are small)
Directions: Give the team 2 sets of identical (or very similar) building blocks. Assign roles to each person on the team: a director, a builder, a runner and at least one or more as observers.
Have the director and builder stand on opposite sides of the room you’re in, facing away from each other. The director must build a unique structure using stackable objects. She will then give instructions to the runner on how to build that structure. The runner relays these directions to the builder. Meanwhile, the observer takes notes of what happens, like how the people communicate and listen to each other. Afterward, discuss what worked well and what didn’t.
Teamwork relies on proper cooperation and communication, which are crucial skills needed for completing tasks. This game allows members to be responsible for their own part in the task while relying on each other to complete the stack properly.
If you have enough people for more than one team, make it more competitive by creating more teams and have them work against time. If one team is smaller than the other, have the director give directions to the builder, eliminating the need for a runner.
Misunderstanding helps improve creative communication skills.
What you’ll need: ● 2 people or more ● Chairs ● Variety of objects ● Paper ● Writing utensils of your choice
Directions: This game will be done in groups of two. Have one person from the team choose an object without the other person seeing what she’s chosen. Have the two people sit back-to-back. The player with the object must describe it to the other person without naming it. The other player will then draw the object, based solely on the description given.
This game encourages you to be creative with your words and descriptions, and it creates insights for the players on how easy it is to misunderstand one another. Players must search for new, vivid ways to describe the object so that their partners can get a clear idea of it without seeing or touching it. This is a great way of improving communication that isn’t face-to-face.
To make it slightly more challenging with larger groups, make it a competition. The duo with the most accurate drawing wins.
6. Four at a Time
This activity works on teamwork and non-verbal communication.
What you’ll need: ● 5 people or more ● Number of chairs equal to players ● Private space
Directions: The goal of the game is to have exactly four people standing at all times and to keep the game going for as long as possible. Participants should sit themselves in a circle. Each person stands for 10 seconds. After the 10 seconds are over, the people standing must sit down and be replaced by new people. Communication within the circle must be non-verbal; no speaking is allowed.
Non-verbal communication skills are essential for in-person customer service. This kind of game would be great for pre-sales support teams, who work together to boost customer engagement.
A great thing about this game is that it can be played anywhere – simply leave the chairs out if you don’t have them available. This game works well with larger groups, which makes it more fun and challenging.
7. Get It Together
Get It Together improves focus and strengthens your ability to give clear directions, while encouraging teamwork.
What you’ll need: ● 4 people or more ● Blindfolds ● Masking or colored tape ● Various small items ● Open area or room
Directions: Create a circle in the center of the space using the tape. Divide the players into teams of two, blindfolding one member from each team. Place the objects you’ve picked out in the center of the circle. Have the non-blindfolded member from each team direct the blindfolded member to retrieve a specific object in the circle. Make sure that the person giving instructions doesn’t enter the circle. With more teams, the game becomes complicated as multiple people enter the circle.
The game encourages focus since players have to carefully guide their partners to retrieve the correct object. Whether you’re speaking with a colleague or a customer, every team member must be able to practice focus and concentration.
Switch roles after each round to experience both sides of the game. You can then discuss different methods each team used to guide their partners.
From professional to private life, communication is integral. You can improve your skills over time and develop a clear, simple way to communicate. Games are a great way to practice because not only do you get to have fun, you’re also learning along the way. Use these games to bring your team closer and work on your communication skills together.
Michelle Jarsen is part of the Marketing Team at Userlike, software for website and messaging support. We share tips about customer service and communication on the Userlike Blog.
For more articles from Shep Hyken and his guest contributors go to customerserviceblog.com.
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