Numbers Talk

Numbers Talk

The Numbers Talk Challenge

Numbers Talk is a simple, no-props exercise is 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 my number is 5 and the person I interact with is 12, 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, etc.

Reiterate that each person will exchange numbers only five times with five different people.

Challenge your group to not use any forms of visual cues to communicate or record their number, ie all communication must be verbal.
Instruct each person to stop mingling with others when they have exchanged numbers five times.

When all movement has ceased, invite your group to reform the circle in numerical order according to the last number they received.

Once the circle has formed, ask your group to call out their numbers starting from 1. Review the success or otherwise of the task.

Moment of Reflection
  • What led to your success or otherwise in this exercise?
  • What strategies did you use to help you remember five different numbers?
  • What happened if you failed to listen carefully?
  • Do we always listen with just our ears?
  • Whose responsibility is it to be sure that all numbers are shared correctly?
  • Can you think of another example where everyone is responsible for the success of the group?
See also  Copy Cat

The topics of this publication: teamwork, interactions, collaboration, cooperation, adaptability skills, strategy, adaptation, integration, active listening, memory

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