A wonderful exercise to illustrate the importance of non-verbal communication and teams is through playing Koosh Tag.

Participants form two equal lines, holding hands of their team mates, and face (but don’t touch) the opposite team. One additional person is not in the line, but stays on one end to place the Koosh on a table, while a second person (not in the line) is at the opposite end to flip a quarter.  

Only the one person on each team closest to the Koosh looks at the Koosh; all others face the coin-flipper. Without speaking, the coin is flipped, and if it is heads, the person closest to the coin squeezes their team mate’s hands — and, if things go correctly, each person silently squeezes hands down the line — with the goal of being the first person to grab the Koosh off the table. If successful, the “grabber” rotates to the other end of their team and becomes the one to watch the coin flip, until one team has rotated everyone through.

The fun comes in when someone incorrectly squeezes — either by squeezing on “tails” instead of heads, by thinking they felt a squeeze when they didn’t, or by seeing the other team squeeze and thinking they were correct when they weren’t.  In the case of an incorrect grabbing, the team rotates in the opposite direction and actually loses ground.

Koosh Tag is a great way to illustrate that everyone on the team plays a role, and those in the middle are no less critical to success than the coin flipper or the grabber on the end. It is also a powerful illustrator of non-verbal communication as the whole thing takes place without those in line speaking.

Koosh Tag generates lots of laughs and energy, and is a great way to start a workshop or morning meeting when you need to wake people up.  All you need is a Koosh and a quarter to infuse some energy into your next training! 

— beth triplett

Hats off to Tracy for sharing this idea several decades ago!

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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