Recent political events have led to a plethora of politically inspired posts on Facebook, which at least makes a change from photographs of food or posts about the weather. I’ve seen insightful quotes, heated exchanges about the merits of Brexit or Trump’s Travel ban and news of an apparent terror attack in Sweden that even the Swedes didn’t know about.
Many of the things I’ve seen have been quite depressing, emphasising how divided we’ve become, and the huge gulf that exists between different ideological camps. But amongst the bile, anger and hatred, there have been the occasional messages that inspire hope, and some that emphasise how much common ground we actually still share.
One of the most brilliant, and positive postings I’ve seen in recent weeks was a link to a fantastic, very short video by Danish director, Asger Leth. If you’ve not seen it, I urge you to watch it now. It’s truly inspiring.
It’s so good, in fact, that I decided to write a Trainers’ Library exercise that unashamedly borrows from the idea. (And because I think the messages it delivers are so important, we’re giving it away free even to non-members. If you're not a Trainers' Library member and would like a copy, just visit our Free Samples page within the next two weeks.)
Breaking Out of Our Boxes is particularly suited for use in conferences and with large groups that bring people from different parts of a business together. It can also, of course, be used in equal opportunities and diversity training. It encourages participants to recognise the values, beliefs and habits they share, and to recognise that they are all part of one team, sharing a common goal.
Ultimately, it’s an exercise that looks at the way we categorise and stereotype each other. I believe it’s important because, when you think about it, is it more relevant to categorise someone based on their religion or sexual orientation, rather than, say their love of theatre, or how ‘green’ they are? Is the colour of someone’s skin any more relevant than the car they drive, or whether they eat meat? Does the region they were born in matter any more than how much they love or loathe soccer?
If you’re looking for an energetic exercise that will break down barriers, engage people and open their eyes to their similarities, you know where to look.
I’d love to hear your stories of your experiences using this exercise and the reaction your participants had to it, and, as always, all feedback and comments are welcome.