I’ll let you in on a little secret I use to get teams to reveal what they’re really thinking and feeling about to one another. It’s a game I call “fact vs. story.”
I played this game the other day with a CEO and his executive team and it was a big success. I started simply by asking them to share facts and stories about me. Some facts were: “You are wearing glasses. You are a woman. You are sitting in a chair.”
Then I asked them to share stories they have about me. Here are some I heard: “You like to garden. You dye your hair. You are really happy today. You miss your kids.”
Then I asked each person to pick someone on the team and share a fact and a story they had about that person. They jumped right in. One person said, “A fact is you have hired two people since December 1st. A story I make up is that you are compromising the organization by not hiring faster.” Another one said. “A fact is you created a list of priorities for 2017. A story I make up is that you are overcommitted and taking on too much.”
On and on they went, round after round, sharing facts and stories. Withholds were revealed, feelings were felt, and core issues were surfaced. Even though some of the stories were vulnerable to tell and listen to, the team reported feeling closer because there was no longer anything they were hiding from one another.
There was a palpable sense of relief knowing that significant issues were revealed so that they could actually address them. One person asked, “What would have happened if we continued to build our business without addressing these challenges?” What a powerful great question.
The next step for this team was to capture the key issues that were revealed and to address each issue directly from a place of curiosity. No blame. No victimhood. When a team is genuinely interested in learning versus attached to being right, the stories that are revealed are all in service to their collective success.
Is your team struggling to speak authentically with one another? Try this game. It’s a safe way to reveal your judgements and frustrations in a way that allows everyone to recognize that all of the judgements we have are just stories we make up. And if we’re willing to come from a place of curiosity, the stories have much to teach us.