Talk Like Spock– to improve your communication skills

When you “talk like Spock,” the iconic character from Star Trek, you are:

  1. Taking emotion out of the conversation.
  2. Listening carefully and analytically to what others have to say—with an open mind.
  3. Stating facts, not feelings.
  4. Realizing that conflict can spur growth.
  5. Coming to reasonable conclusions that are supported by facts.
  6. Agreeing to work together to solve problems.
  7. Treating others with respect even if you disagree.

Talk like Spock—who was good at listening carefully and saying few but very accurate words. This article is a continuation of our New Year’s Resolution suggestion to become better communicators. Are we talking to “the other side’ yet? Are we even trying? It’s unfortunate when we won’t communicate at all on some subjects. Some feel compelled to shut down conversation, because we simply “won’t change each other’s minds.” Discussion over. That is what goes on in some businesses and in our government today. That—and the fact that some people just want to undermine the “other side” –no matter what. Remember that leading a team and governing starts with all of us, and we need to be good examples. We need to hire/vote in people who want to work together—not against each other. You can hire someone who has the same basic beliefs as you, but if that person cannot communicate well and work with all others, nothing will happen. Progress gets undermined by a constant tug of war. Welcome problem solvers who are eager to listen to all ideas, not just their own.

Spock was half human and half Vulcan, which is why he would not let emotion take over reasoning. We are perhaps too human, acting on feelings and aligning ourselves only with like-minded people to the detriment of everyone. As nice and easy as it is to think that everything is just black and white; right or wrong, that is a simplistic view of a very complex society.

So before you lash out at someone who has a different opinion– think. The ability to reason is what sets us apart, so we should do it more often. Set aside differences. Start learning about other points of view. Gather facts and make your own decisions. Then communicate ideas to solve problems instead of perpetuating or escalating them. Never resort to name calling or swearing. This just sets everything back even further. Try talking to the “other side.” And keep trying even if you get shut down.

 

The Good and Bad about Escape Rooms– the hot trend in team building

If you have not experienced an Escape Room, it’s a new form of entertainment for small groups, dates, or a family outing. It entails going to a facility that is built out to support an entertaining theme (Pirates, Zombies, Sherlock Holmes, Time Traveling, Break out of Jail, etc.). The premise is that your group (of up to 10 people) needs to figure out how to “escape” the room(s) in one hour or less. In order to do this, your team must look at and manipulate objects in the room and figure out what they mean. It is essentially a series of puzzles that are designed to go along with the theme—and eventually yield the numbers, letters or directions that will unlock many different types of locking mechanisms. If you succeed at figuring it all out, your team will be able to exit the room.

It can be a great team building experience for a small group if the right escape room facility is selected. They are definitely not all the same. Here are the pluses, minuses and how to select what’s best for your team…

Pluses

  1. The cost is pretty reasonable. It amounts to about $30- $50 per person, depending upon how many participants. We would recommend buying out the room for your group. This would be about $275- $500, depending upon the facility.
  2. Many facilities and scenarios to choose from. Escape Rooms are springing up everywhere, and there is probably one right in your city.
  3. Entertaining and fun. Some facilities have built some pretty elaborate sets for these rooms. There is a wide variety of scenarios to choose from. Most escape room facilities offer two or three different escape room experiences. This means your group could certainly do more than one of these experiences if they like them.
  4. Great for small groups of 10 people or less. Not all team building events work well for a group of 5- 6 people, but this does.
  5. All indoors, so bad weather is never an issue.

 

Minuses

  1. You have to be there at an exact time and be done by an exact time. There is little to no flexibility, because other groups may be in the room before you and after you.
  2. Not everyone enjoys solving puzzles that are not straightforward. Some escape rooms can be very difficult, and usually within a group some of the participants will be more into it than others. Some may actually disengage.
  3. You have to do your own observing and debriefing, which is an important component of team building. If you do not relate the experience back to what happens in your workplace, you are missing out on a great deal of its value.
  4. It can only accommodate 6-10 people at a time, depending upon the facility. Larger groups would either have to divide up and experience different rooms—which can defeat the purpose of doing something together.
  5. Some escape rooms are not very big, and having 10 people in a relative small room (about 12’ x 12’—some even smaller) can be difficult for some. Yes, people can leave at any time, but you certainly don’t want people to be uncomfortable.
  6. If you don’t “buy out the room” (usually $275- $500) for your group, you may be sharing your experience with people you do not know (“the public”).
  7. If you do not choose the right facility and theme for your group, they may finish too soon or not at all. We know of one group that was done in 15 minutes and wanted their money back. In other cases, the hour expires, and the group is not even close to getting out (succeeding).
  8. Some people prefer outdoor events for team building. Escape Rooms are all indoors and most of the rooms do not have any windows.

 

How to choose the best Escape Room Experience for your group

  1. Ask friends, colleagues about their experiences. Read the reviews.
  2. Go and check it out. You and some friends can experience one of the escape rooms at a particular facility before you decide to bring your work team there – to experience the other theme offering.
  3. Reserve early in order to make sure you can get a date and time that works with everyone’s schedule.
  4. Review the facilities rules and ask about contingencies. What if you have to cancel or change the date? What if you arrive late? Are there penalties? Can you get your money back if needed?
  5. Consider who the participants are: level of sophistication, physical fitness, tenacity, sense of adventure. Make sure you match the right experience to the group. Some escape room facilities offer challenges that are a bit more physical. Ask questions!
  6. Does the escape room facility provide a person who guides the group through the experience? There are many levels of employee involvement offered at these places. Here are some that we have seen:
    1. No one from the facility is there to help or guide the group, nor are they monitoring the group’s progress at all. The participants can call (on a walkie talkie) to get one clue during the hour. That’s it.
    2. There is a “guide” that physically stays with the group and provides hints if the group seems to be having trouble making progress.
    3. There are video cameras so that employees of the facility can see what your team is doing. They communicate with your team through a TV monitor that will provide written hints, notes or cautions. Your team can wave at the monitor and ask (specific questions) for clues at any time.

 

How larger groups can experience an “escape room” adventure…

Several team building companies, including Corporate Games, offer “escape room events” for larger groups (20 to several hundred participants). These would take place at a venue of your choice. If the venue is unique (like a museum, aircraft carrier, mansion, etc.), elements of the venue can be incorporated into the theme and the game itself.

An intriguing scenario is provided to support the venue or even the industry of the group. Participants are on teams of about 8 people. Each team attempts to locate clues, find mysterious elements, figure out codes and puzzles that will ultimately let them unlock a series of different mechanisms to succeed at the challenge. Facilitators are there to assist and provide hints if needed.

It’s a one-hour challenge that offers the best elements of team building: group problem solving, time management, creativity, resourcefulness and more! Plus, these customized events can be done anywhere—even outdoors.

Contact Corporate Games to get complete details on this extraordinary activity: Call 800-790 GAME (4263) or email us at Info@corpgames.com

 

 

 

Best New Year’s Resolution part 2

All about team building—and more…

LISTEN—fully and with intent to understand. This is one of the hardest parts of communicating. Normally we listen only partially, because we are thinking about so many other things. Or—we listen with intent to respond. This also takes away from our ability to fully understand, because we are listening with a “filter”—formulating what you will say next—not concentrating on what is being said. Active listening seeks to comprehend and empathize with the speaker. This means trying to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and allow their point of view to be validated—no matter what your own personal feelings on the issue. It does not mean we will agree in the end, but hopefully that both sides will have an opportunity to share –without emotion—very different perspectives. In doing so, you may surprisingly find some commonalities.

This is not easy to do if the person you are listening to is combative and passionate. But allow them to speak without interruption and usually, the rhetoric and tone will eventually start to be less argumentative. After all, an argument takes two people. If you are listening without responding, there can be no argument.  Here are some tools that can help:

  1. Think of the other person as your “friend” who is willing to share their ideas with you. You may not feel like it, but put on a pleasant face and smile. A wise person said that “Peace is not the absence of conflict; it is the absence of physical (or emotional) aggression.” Conflict is actually something that can move us forward.
  2. Intermittently use understanding words. This will encourage the person to keep conversing. These are words like “ok” or “sure” or “I see.” Again—not combative, but demonstrating an effort to understand and empathize.
  3. If the other person does not ask for your point of view, don’t launch into a counterpoint speech. Instead, ask if you can share your view also. You might hear “There is really no point. We can’t change each other’s minds.” Then say, “But it would be good to talk and have the conversation. Non-communication is what gets us (and indeed the world) into trouble, because then we are just guessing and making up what someone else thinks.”

Watch for “Talk like Spock” in our next post.

The Best New Year’s Resolution –does not cost a thing.

Resolve to improve your communication skills and reap wonderful, positive results in personal and business relationships. It’s the best thing you can do for yourself and everyone around you.

The past year has uncovered unfortunate divisiveness in our country and even among friends and family. For some, it has gotten to the point that people who had good relationships just avoid conversation –or each other. Name calling, bullying and telling people they are wrong is counterproductive. Nasty tweets, yelling and fighting will solve nothing.

We are all Americans and want our country to succeed. We want our businesses to thrive and our personal relationships to be rewarding. We must talk to each other in order to move forward. And it all comes down to good communication skills.

Where do we start? First, learn to reach out without malice. This means asking for other people’s opinions and honestly wanting to hear them. There may certainly be some reluctance from others to share, but if people don’t think you are just waiting to pounce and bite their head off, they may start to open up. If someone just says “no” and puts up a wall, it is ok. But explain that you are interested in knowing what they think—and that is all. Don’t let a conversation escalate into something negative. Will cover some tips on how to do this in our next post. In the meantime, think about and practice “reaching out.”