Erica Marx


by for .  

message passed without checking to next person



gain awareness of how much a message can change - take info with a grain of salt!
importance for confirmation of info / active listening



    Create two lines of people. The person at the front of each line are given the same spoken message at the same time. No repeating of message, no checking, no questions. Each person passes the message verbatim to the next person. Compare messages at the end. 


    Reminder - this is best case scenario with people actively listening, no time lag, no personal agendas. 

    How confident are you in the accuracy of the message? How confident are you in your part (what they received & passed on)?

    How and when did the message change?

    How did people feel at different places in the line?
    What strategies did they use? How did those vary based on order (ie. closer to the source vs. away). What was important at different point? 

    * Perform with audience. People who are in telephone line leave the room and come in one at a time. Online you can put the volunteers in a breakout room and bring them to the main session one at a time. In the main session A tells B the story. Then C is brought from the breakout room to the main session. B tells C the story in the main session. Then D is brought in to the main session. C tells D the story. Then D tells the audience the story.
    * Alternate between physical version & spoken version. Or between written & drawn
    Start two (or more) lines with the same message. The message can be complicated -- notice what gets edited in each chain & impact on final message.
    * For emotions, can experiment with tone/ emphasis of the original communicator.
    * Start with personal story that matters from a participant. Debrief with this person what happened when their story changed. How did it feel to them? Can be very powerful. 


    Physical version of telephone

    People stand in a line facing forward. The facilitator demonstrates 3 distinct physical movements in silence to the last person in line (no one else can see). That person taps the person in front of them and demonstrates the movements to the next person in line, who then taps the person in front of them and demonstrates what they saw. This goes on, down the line until the first person (last person in the exercise) demonstrates the movements shown. After each person demonstrates, they can step out of the line and watch along with the facilitator and other participants in the workshop. 

    Can repeat the activity with mirroring back the message. The group will likely be more successful & grounded. 

    Teaching Notes

    Great for teaching how quickly our minds make up a story (MSU, TFAR). Start with 3 gestures that tell a story in your mind. Tell each person to communicate clearly to the next person (via gestures). Prime people to hear the communication, allow the story to happen.

    I only give the instructions that you need to be silent. Some people have spontaneously mirrored back the communication to see if they have it before passing it on. 

    What happened? What story did you hear? How much did you trust the communication? When did you trust / not trust it? When did people in the line stop trusting the communication? Why? What stories in your real life might be getting distorted / is it time to stop trusting? 


    AIN Paris learning journey - Belina & Jeanne. Transmission of important info from gov't agency to field workers
    AIN Stony Brook, demo'd at AIN Northeast post-conference gathering in Sept 2019

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