Cartoon of two men in suits and holding briefcases arguing, while a referee stands between them blowing his whistle
  • By Jonathan Ruales
  • In DIY
  • Posted November 16, 2015

Conflict Resolution Activity: Avoid the Blame Game

A quick conflict resolution activity

We are often quick to point the finger when there are group problems. You can’t build effective teams while being surrounded by people who blame others for their failures, whether at work or at home, can leave you prone to do the same.

Interestingly, odds are the reason those people pass the buck isn’t to evade responsibility, but to protect their own self-image. The truth is a lot of time and energy is wasted on finding a guilty party!

  1. Have your group form a circle with everyone standing
  2. Start by you pointing to someone in the circle. Continue pointing!
  3. That person now points to someone else and continues pointing
  4. Keep going until everyone is pointing at someone else, and the last person then points at you!
  5. Stop pointing and shift your attention to the person you are pointing at. That person becomes your person of interest!
  6. Explain that the objective is to watch your POI very, very closely to imitate his or her every action.
  7. Now ask your group to stand perfectly still. With nobody moving unless their POI does. If your POI moves (blinks, coughs twitches etc.), he or she is to copy that exact movement and then be still again.
  8. Begin the game and play for 3-5 minutes.

When you’re finished ask these questions:

  • We were supposed to stand still, what happened? (Expect some blaming of who moved first to occur.)
  • Who knows who started the movement? (Let some accusations occur. It will become evident that it is nearly impossible to pinpoint who really started each movement.)
  • How much does it matter who started it, once it started?
  • How much energy do we put into looking for scapegoats?
  • How are we to blame for perpetuating particular mannerisms that inevitably become team norms? What examples do we have here at work?
  • What can this imply for us when we’re back on the job?