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.
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.
- The Facilitator reads out (or recites from memory) the Introduction.
- Offer the first choice – “A: Kite strings” or “B: Clotheslines”
- The Facilitator asks the group, “How do you see yourself? Are you more like choice A or choice B?”
- 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.
- After they have finished moving pause and ask whether anyone would like to say why they made the choice they did.
- Repeat steps 2-5 for the other four Choice Pairs.
- Process the activity with your participants using the plenary questions provided.
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?
- 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.