The first time I did this team building exercise I was in
high school and I was off at leadership camp. You can read more about that in the Plane Crash Survival story.
I still remember climbing up on the table and then falling backwards.
This is a simple exercise to execute – you have someone stand on table, cross their arms tense up their whole body and fall backwards, into the waiting arms of their co-workers.
Their teammates stand shoulder to shoulder directly across from one another, clasping forearms (grabbing a hold just below the elbow). You want people to stand side by side with enough people to catch the person from their feet up to their head.
Tip: Position your four strongest people in the middle of the group.
People falling tend to go butt first and sometimes are a bit too relaxed. People are heaviest when they are relaxed – tensed they are like a board and easy to lift as they appear lighter.
Once the people are caught you can have the people closest to the table lower the persons feet first and so they can stand up on their own.
Instruct the team not to let go until the person is standing up on their own.
I did an interesting variation of this team building exercise at a martial arts summer camp in 2012, with our Ph.D. in Military Psychology.
We broke out into teams of four. One person on their hands and knees, the person falling stood across the pelvis and shoulders of the person on their knees. The other two locked forearms and caught the person falling.
Here was the big twist when we did this one.
The faller would say – their full name, where they lived, and why they were here, while standing on the ground before ever stepping up onto the other person.
The other three would be paying attention to their rate of
speech, and their tone.
After the fall they would immediately stand and say the same three things, if they could remember them.
They would then take some calming breaths (inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth – steadily slowing the breathing) and then try and say the same three things again just like they did the first time.
Each time the person says the three items the other team members are paying close attention to their speech patterns.
The results of this variation can be quite interesting depending upon the amount of stress developed.
You can always let the person go a second time to see if they can remain calmer the second time around.
This will demonstrate the effect of stress on even a simple communication task.
Until next time, keep Discovering your Natural Abilities!
P.S. Do not attempt either of these if you do not trust yourself to carry the out successfully. I have seen this one backfire.
P.P.S. We take no responsibility for anyone attempting to use these team building exercise.
P.P.P.S. Please let us know if you have done one of these and how it worked out for you!
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