Thiagi Group

Sticks - A Metaphorical Simulation Game

by .  
25 - 6010 - 50 Low
When people interact or communicate with each other, they use certain amount of energy or pressure. Here's an activity that makes participants aware of such energy exchange and helps them explore how to manage this process.


To experience the differences in the “feel” among interactions with different people. For some, a light amount of energy is all that is needed for communication, while for others, it may have to be more forceful.

To monitor how your energy level motivates (or demotivates) others who want to work with you.

To communicate through resources other than just words or body language when trying to give and receive information.

To experience real connection to others.




    Round 1

    Ask participants to pair up. It usually works best if the partners in each pair are about the same height.

    Give a stick to each pair. Ask the partners to place the stick near their belly button (or around the solar plexus) and keep it in position without using their hands.

    Ask partners to decide who will be A and who will be B. Instruct A to lead B around the room (or to some destination) without the stick falling from between their bodies. During this process neither partner may talk or touch the stick with their hands.

    Let this activity continue for 2 to 5 minutes. If the stick falls, just tell the partners to pick it up and start over.

    When partners complete the task, have A and B switch their roles: B leads A around the room (or to some destination) without the stick falling. Let the activity continue for another 2 to 5 minutes. Remind participants that there should be no talking.

    Round 2

    Without debriefing, ask partners to switch the roles again so that A leads and B follows. During this round, B will have her eyes closed. As before, let the activity continue for about 2 to 5 minutes. Remind everyone that the objective is not to let the stick drop and the constraint is not talk.

    After a suitable time period, have B lead A, with A's eyes closed. Let the activity continue for 2 to 5 minutes.

    Additional Rounds

    If you really want a challenge, ask both A and B to close their eyes and take turns to lead and to follow.

    For a team activity, ask two or three pairs to stand close to each other and move together without dropping the sticks.


    Ask participants to recall and report what happened. Here are some typical comments from participants:

    • My partner pushed on the stick harder than was necessary.
    • My partner did not respond to my attempts to make her turn.
    • It was easier to move around with the eyes closed since I could focus on holding the stick without getting distracted by looking around.

    Ask participants how they felt during the experience. Here are some typical reactions:

    • Frustrated when my partner did not respond to my intentions
    • Frustrated because we could not talk to each other
    • Elated whenever my partner understood exactly what I wanted to do
    • Focused in moving together as a group since we had to be aware of the other pairs

    Ask participants to reflect on what they learned from the activity.

    I have found that participants begin to pay more attention to what is called C-P-R: Cue-Pressure-Response. Partners establish the cue for communication. When that occurs, they are able to apply the least amount of pressure to get results. When the follower responds to the pressure, the leader is able to calibrate how much (or how little) pressure is required.


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