A Game To Warm Up Creative Thinking — What if… Then.

In this article, you will learn a game that unlocks creativity and play in a group of up to 5 people. Ready to expand your prosocial toolkit?

When I researched improv, my mindset changed. I learnt that there was a philosophy, a framework. It was not just fun and games. improvisers think differently and practice principles. I soon realized I wanted to incorporate these into my own practice.

One of these core principles is Yes And: Build off another person’s expression, don’t block it. This principle is encapsulated by the distinction between responding to someone with ‘yes, and’ and with ‘but.’ When we respond with ‘but’ we’re fault-finding. Our curiosity is not active. Our cooperativity goes down. The speaker feels less encouraged to share more.

When we respond with ‘yes, and’ we are getting excited about, expanding on, and validating what has been shared. We approach the interaction from a place of collaboration, not competition or argumentation.

Argumentation is generally not prosocial. Exploration is.

I want to argue with people less. I want to give up my dogma and get curious about others’ experiences. Yes, And helps me do this.

All that to say, I invented a game based on this improv principle. I have used it with groups all over the planet. Here’s how to play:

  1. Person 1 begins with the following sentence stem: What if “event happened in our immediate situation”? 
    Ex. What if you heard a big explosion outside your window right now?
  2. Person 2 responds very concisely: I would “action.” Ex. I would run outside with a speaker and play music.
    Then, person 2 adds another layer to the story: What if “event happened”? Ex. What if everyone was already dancing and the explosion was a confetti cannon?
    Note, it’s best when each player responds with a single concept or response. Less is more.
  3. Person 1 (or 3) responds: I would “action”… And then adds another layer.
  4. And so on.

The story being created can involve one protagonist or two or three. Start by using one protagonist that everyone responds as. This means that all the players are pretending to respond as the same person.

When to use this game

This game is perfect for activating the imagination and playfulness of small groups. I usually play with groups of 3 or 4. This is a great game to open people’s minds for creative thinking. It’s a great warm-up.

When the game gets boring, change the game. Add a layer of complexity. Modify it.

And always remember: When someone wins, the game is over.

So **** competitiveness.

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3 Methods for Creating Interpersonal Psychological Safety

Learn how to create the permission for others to express themselves.

Role modelling is at the center of creating safety for others. If you’re not expressing yourself, then don’t expect others to be express themselves. Most people are just waiting for someone to break the ice and create a permission force field for quirkiness and authenticity.

The acronym DIE, which refers to ego-death, outlines the three approaches for producing safety for others. These strategies are about the first letter, D: Demonstrate risk-taking.

In my free Masterclass, I go into more depth about DIE, and the plethora of approaches to creating interpersonal psychological safety. You can sign up for it here.

Be involved in the moment

Presence is about being in a place and not being absent-minded. Involvement is presence plus engagement. This means that you are interacting with the moment, contributing, creating, and playing with it. Presence is a great start. But on the spectrum of passivity to activity, presence is in the middle. Involvement is on the active side. Involvement is the opposite of consumption.

Disclose about yourself and your feelings

When we disclose to others how we are actually feeling, people feel our authenticity. When people feel our authenticity, they feel safe to authentically express themselves too. The meaning of authenticity is the alignment of actions and feelings in the present moment. By being the first person to disclose something real, something you’re feeling, you create space for others to do the same. When disclosure is embodied, it means that the feeling is actually present. This is what people feel through your voice.

Be the first

The first dancer, the first one to cheer, the first one to reach out, the first one to trust. Being the first is about giving up on waiting for fun, and taking responsibility for creating the fun. Don’t wait for others to start doing something. Be the first. How I like to do this is by being the first to approach, the first to get excited, or the first to admit something about myself.

Here is me being the first one to dance and initiate a dance party.

This was a brief summary of one the modules in my course: The Fun Intelligence Quotient. Sign up for my lab and be the first to know when it is released.

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The Party Scientist’s Top 10 Tools for Virtual Joy and Connection

Learn ten simple tools to produce magical human moments.

Read this if to upgrade your virtual facilitation skills. I will share 10 of my go-to strategies for designing high-ticket corporate virtual experiences.

My experience with LUSH Cosmetics.

It has been a year and half since I was forced to develop my virtual facilitation skills. I return to this article with new insights about Zoom and virtual activities.

At first, I was a total amateur. I did not know how to use a mixer and microphone. My database of games and tricks was small. And, my studio was ugly. Period. How things have changed…

Today, I lead virtual experiences for conferences, LUSH Cosmetics, Accenture, and other Fortune companies. I have hacked the code of producing the exhilaration and liberation we thought was only possible with a giant physical festival stage. I want to share with you some of the codes.

Codes that go beyond good quality audio and video.

Now is still the time to become a master in facilitating virtual human connection!

#1: Designate a speaker.

Give people turns to speak. In a large group, interruptions can destroy the psychological safety within a meeting. If people want to speak or ask a question, I encourage them to let me know through the chat function. Alternatively, I use people’s names to nominate them to speak.

#2: Leverage music.

Music is the universal human language. Before starting an event, I like to play a lighthearted song, one that everyone recognizes and one that elicits laughter. As an example, you could play the Circle of Life or Whitney Houston. Here’s one of my favourites that always works.

#3: Leverage movement.

Getting enough blood flow to the brain is important. Physical exercise releases endorphins. These improve our mood. I like to have my participants stand up and clap to a song or follow a few simple movements. You can have your participants lead these movements, as well.

#4: Leverage visualization.

At the very beginning of my video calls, I leverage visualization in two ways. I get my participants to imagine they are in a room together. And, I encourage my participants to imagine their best friends’ smiles in the room with them. Afterward, I get everyone to share a smile with everyone else on the video call. And perhaps a creative gesture.

#5: Ensure two-way communication.

If participants are watching instead of interacting with others, it is less likely they will experience joy and belonging. I use the break-out room function in Zoom to allow more interactions among my participants. This assigns them to small groups so that there is more space for participants to speak. I also give my participants ways to interact with one another. For example, I use an open mic at the end of the event called the Unconditional Round of Applause.

#6: Let participants be seen.

To be seen and heard is a psychological need. During group activities, I spotlight different participants. This means that the entire group sees them on the screen. This gives them a chance to say hello to everyone else on the call. Meeting hosts, stop hogging the spotlight!

#7: Show and tell.

Being home-bound puts us in proximity to a lot of meaningful keepsakes. I like to have my participants share a meaningful item with the group, oftentimes accompanied by a short story. This has been successful in fostering emotional closeness. It’s best to use the breakout function for this activity.

#8: Play a game.

There are hundreds of games out there. Jackbox and Deepfun.com are two great resources. Two of my favourite games are called No No No Thank You and It Could Be Worse. These games are great because they are simple, short, and require no interface.

#9: Do or watch something laughter-inducing together.

Shared laughter is medicine. Find a meme or short video that is innocently funny. Share your screen and computer audio, and voila! Make sure to unmute participants so you can hear everyone laughing. An excellent example is the sheep-check in exercise.

#10: Do a compliment shoutout.

This is a gratitude exercise. I encourage my participants to either (a) use the chat to describe and compliment what someone did or (b) I give the mic to someone who wants to verbally compliment another participant in the group. Oftentimes, without the explicit permission to recognize our peers, we don’t do it. This is an excellent way to end meetings.

Send me an email or comment below with one action you’ll take to apply this knowledge. Research suggests that, otherwise, you’ll forget everything you just read. Email: beyoutiful@thepartyscientist.com

Have a team that requires a boost of joy, team spirit, and connection? I can help you develop an experience to do just that.

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