Clotheslines & Kite Strings

Are you a facilitator / manager who wants to build a strong multicultural team?

Are you dealing with strong emotions within your team when decisions are being made, but don't know how to help them recognize and understand each other's differences?

Clotheslines & Kite Strings helps your group see how complex decision making is, even if it is made quickly AND gives a step by step workshop process you can run with them.

Clotheslines and Kite Strings

You can download a FREE Powerpoint or PDF of this tool at the bottom of this page


To help the group see how complex decision making is, even if it is made quickly, by showing how:

  • Assumptions influence our choices.
  • People make the same choice for different reasons.
  • People can make opposite choices for similar reasons.
  • My “allies” on one choice may be opposite me on another choice.

When Would You Use It?

  • This activity has the power to help people learn to recognize differences and to understand those differences at deeper levels, steps toward valuing and celebrating differences.
  • It also allows people to experience their emotional responses to differences and to reflect on them, which is a key component in the journey toward multiculturalism.

Why Would You Use It?

Multicultural teams have particular challenges when it comes to decision making and understanding the viewpoints of others.

This activity will help your team or group explore those challenges in a less serious setting.


  1. The Facilitator reads out (or recites from memory) the Introduction.
  2. Offer the first choice – “A: Kite strings” or “B: Clotheslines”
  3. The Facilitator asks the group, “How do you see yourself? Are you more like choice A or choice B?”
  4. Those who see themselves more like choice A should go to one end of the room. Those who see themselves more like choice B should go to the other end of the room. When you ask them to move, request they go in silence. If they are unsure which choice to make, they should go with their first inclination.
  5. After they have finished moving pause and ask whether anyone would like to say why they made the choice they did.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for the other four Choice Pairs.
  7. Process the activity with your participants using the plenary questions provided.


“This is an exercise about making decisions and noticing the decisions of others. In this exercise there are no right or wrong decisions. You will be invited to make a series of choices between two options.

Choose whichever option makes the most sense to you today. You might make a different choice at another time and that’s OK.

When I offer you the choice, I will say, ‘How do you see yourself? Are you more like choice A or choice B?’

Those who see themselves more like choice A will go to one end of the room. Those who see themselves more like choice B will go to the other end of the room.

When I ask you to move, please go in silence to your end of the room.

If you are unsure which choice to make, go with your first inclination.

I will offer you five pairs of choices and we will pause after each choice, so you will have a chance to say why you made your choice if you wish to do so.I think you will find this exercise to be fun.

Are you ready to begin?”

Choice Pairs


Kite strings

Palm tree

Christmas tree

Picture window

Screened porch

Quill pen




The FREE Powerpoint or PDF download below has images of these pairs for your visual learners

Plenary / Processing Questions

  • What did you observe when we were doing this exercise?
  • Where did you find yourself relative to other people?
  • Were there any people who were always together in the five choices?
  • What did you notice about the reasons people gave for their choices?
  • Did competition enter into the choices or the explanation of the choices?
  • Were people consistent in their choices?
  • What did you learn about yourself and how you make decisions?
  • Were you aware of making choices cognitively or affectively—with your head or with your heart?
  • Did your emotions play a larger role in some decisions than in others?
  • What was it like being in the majority? in the minority?
  • Did you rethink any decision when you heard someone speak from your side?
  • Did you rethink any decision when you heard someone speak from the other side?
  • What have you learned from this exercise that might affect your participation in a group that makes important decisions?
  • How might this exercise help you to recognize, understand, value, and celebrate differences?

Secret Sauce

  • Pedagogically, it is best to allow insights to emerge from the group, by beginning with general questions.
  • Allow time for people to reflect on the choice they made and share with the group. Depending on the size of the group, don’t expect or require everyone to share, but continue to gently encourage them to do so.
  • Some people may ask to stand in the middle. Ask them kindly to pick one choice or the other.
  • After each choice, start with one side of the room and ask people to comment and then go to the other side. Try to alternate sides of the room with which to begin.
  • Begin by asking people what they observed, then invite them to comment on their insights and the meanings of what took place.
  • Lead the exercise carefully so that competition is not encouraged, as people often have a corrective experience that allows them to see the benefits of exploring differences.
  • That exploration often offers people a model for valuing and celebrating differences at a later time when the stakes are much higher than telling others whether they see themselves as a kite string or a clothesline. It serves as a practice session for developing a repertoire of multicultural skills.

Free Download Files

About the Author

Mark Bernstein is a "feel good"​ trainer, consultant, facilitator of 18 years based in Springfield, Pennsylvania with a mission to provide enlightenment and inspiration so that others can feel good about themselves and the contribution they are making to the world.

Leave a Reply 5 comments

Roy Tinning Reply

Hi Mark,

You are great and thanks for your great contribution . It help me and lift me up to another step in my life . I am sure that this exercise will help build my group . once again thank you .

cheers .
R Tinning

Mark Bernstein Reply

My pleasure, Roy. Thanks so much for your message.

charlice Reply

Thanks Mark,

Well laid thought.. thought provoking questions too..

Mark Bernstein Reply

Thanks Charlice

adlyne Reply

Good day Nick

We had an academic workshop and most academics HATE any form of icebreaker or activity where they have to move about.

Because we are in a period of strategic planning …I thought the activity with the clothesline and kite was appropriate. I only used the one example…they are not keen on moving about…hmm, and it was enlightening to observe how decisions were made and why…and you predicted right that people are quite competitive.

Thank you for sharing and providing the material so freely.

Kind Regards


Leave a Reply: