Are you someone who revels in chatting up people at parties with small talk? If you are one of the people on the receiving end who politely chats along while counting down the seconds until you can escape, consider switching up your modus operandi. Sneak a communication game into your conversation. Communication games are very similar to small talk but are much more interesting and fun for everyone.
What Do You Want?
My favorite communication game is called "What Do You Want?". This game is good for three reasons:
- Everyone wants things.
- Everyone likes talking about themselves.
- Things that other people want tend to not be what you expected and are often quite interesting.
This game is even more fun to play with people you know well - you will find that you learn things you never would have otherwise.
Go around in a circle and say something that you want: "I want ...". You can say anything you like. When someone else says something you can ask them to elaborate. I prefer to focus on realistic things, but it is also fun when people want completely unrealistic things.
This game has some sister games as well that end up completely differently after a few rounds: "What Would You Like?", "What Do You Desire?", etc.
An interesting and quite difficult (at leats for me and the people I've played it with) communication game invented by Marshal Rosenberg is named Reflection. The rules are very simple: say what the other person said back to them. Your partner speaks for a minute or two. Then you say to them, "I heard you say ..." and literally tell them what you heard them say. Not what you thought about what they said. Only what they said or a close approximation. A nice way to add sprinkles on top is to mix in what emotions you observed your partner feeling when they were speaking.
Dreams And Aspirations
With a group of people of any size, have a single chiar which everyone faces. People one at a time sit in the chair and tell the rest of the group what their dreams and aspirations are.
Go around in a circle and have everyone share a childhood memory. This game is especially fun to play with family. Interestingly when playing with strangers I find that about 50% of people enjoy playing this game. The other half become really sad. This is not a good party game to play with your friends.
Go around in a circle and have each person ask another person a question. Once that person answers, the asker asks the same question again. And again. Six times. The person giving answers must provide a different answer each time. Good questions are very open ended questions like "Who are you?" or "Where do you see yourself in five years?".
Similar to but harder than Reflection, Repeat is a two person game where one person says three sentences. The other person now repeats exactly, word for word, what the other person said. Switch.
If You Really Knew Me
Go around in a circle. Everyone says "If you really knew me ..." and something you would know if you really knew them. This is a great game to play with your spouse.
Alternate between you and a partner giving straight up judgements you have about each other. Judgements can be good, bad, or neutral. Don't shy away from bad judgements. Hearing what people have to say is better than not. It's like having something in your teeth and someone is finally letting you know.
In the same fashion as What Do You Want? and If You Really Knew Me, respond to the prompt What Do You Believe. This game may be intimidating at first, however once it is flowing the answers are very deep and interesting. Believe it or not, you believe many, many things.
I Want To Believe
This game is a combination of What Do You Want and What Do You Believe. Oddly it is a very dark and intense game. It is also one of the best.
Generalizations often affect the way you think about people for longer than they are useful. In particular when applying a generalization to an isolated incident. Pair up with a partner. Give each label 30 seconds or so. Come up with reasonable scenarios where someone would use that lable. Say it out loud. Then say what that person actually means. Here are some words to start you off:
- Any curse word
- Good person
- Terrible mother/father