Talk to the Number

Talk to the Number
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The Talk to the Number Activity

Talk to the Number is a simple exercise and ideal for exploring the critical nature of listening, especially with large groups. But note, while it appears simple, it is actually very difficult to achieve.

Start by forming a large circle with your group. Inviting one person to start by calling out “ONE,” number off around the circle until every person has been assigned a number in sequence.

Next, explain that you will shortly invite everyone to mix and mingle with five other people to exchange numbers. A quick demonstration often helps at this point.

For example, if the number I called is 5 and the person I interact with is 12, explain that I will become 12 and they will become 5. Then, in my next exchange, I will swap 12 with the number of my next partner, and so on.

Reiterate, that each person is to exchange numbers five times, and five times only. If possible, encourage people to seek out those who they have not interacted with (but this is not critical to the success of the game.)

When ready, challenge your group to reassemble the circle in numerical order according to the last number they received, ie each person is more than likely to be standing in a different spot in the circle between two different people.

In an ideal world, where everyone is listening and short-term memories are working well, the circle will reform perfectly. In this case, you may wish to reflect on the processes and strategies that allowed the task to be completed so effectively, before moving on.

See also  Minefield Game

However, it is not uncommon to see a group struggle to reform the circle accurately because, inevitably, some numbers go missing or others are duplicated in the circle. In these instances, invite your group to review their processes and attempt a second, third (or more) rounds to achieve numerical success.

Then lead a conversation that invites your group to review what was and was not working when it came to their listening and organisational skills.

Moment of Reflection
  • What were the biggest difficulties in being successful in this activity?
  • What strategies did you use to help you remember five different numbers?
  • Did you listen carefully when they exchanged numbers? Do we “hear” only with our ears?
  • Whose responsibility is it to ensure that all numbers are shared correctly? (of the sender or receiver)

The topics of this publication: teamworkinteractionscollaborationcooperationadaptability skillsstrategyadaptationintegrationactive listeningmemory

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