Personal Histories Exercise
One simple yet powerful activity for overcoming the issue of low trust in a team is Patrick Lencioni’s exercise.
What is the exercise?
The exercise is basically everyone in the team answering the following 3 questions:
- Where were you born and where did you grow up?
- How many children are there in your family and where do you fall in the order?
- Which was the hardest or the most important event or challenge that you overcame in your childhood?
When you use the exercise, two things happen:
1) people are vulnerable, which leads to more trust
2) people see similarities between one another and micro-connections are formed
For example, if you’ve shared that you moved to a new city in your 20s or you played the piano in your early childhood, there is a great chance someone else in the room had a similar experience and recognizes it as a common ground and a common language in the communication with you afterward.
Or if you’ve shared that there are two children in your family and you are the little one, another teammate can relate to the feeling of being the one who is “less” heard, or getting the used toys or books after the big one, and so on.
This common experience enables you both to work better together after that – as people tend to respond well to and bond over the similarities.
There’s a saying that goes “I don’t like you, therefore I should get to know you” and so, this is one of the ways to better communication – if you feel like you don’t like somebody, get to know the person – there may be more in common between you two than you imagine.
P.S. This exercise is a perfect warm-up before you do an Anxiety Party.