Communication Exercises (7 Helpful Activities + Worksheets)

This blog will introduce readers to some communication exercises. These are a combination of activities and games that build and sharpen communication skills. Readers will first learn about the importance of communication. Then, we will explore these exercises in more detail.

What are some Communication Exercises?

Below are listed some activities and games that can help improve your communication skills:

  • I-Statements
  • Assertive Communication
  • Reflective Listening
  • Minefield
  • Copycat
  • Lend Me A Hand
  • Simon Says
  • Zen Counting

Why is Communication so Important?

Humans are social animals. We exist in groups, whether it is our family, colleagues, or our friends and acquaintances. Even the loneliest person has to interact with others at some point to get through the day. These interactions are only possible through communication.

Whether it is verbal or non-verbal, communication allows us to pass on information to the people around us. That’s why communicating is probably one of the most useful skills we possess. Without it, we’d never be able to co-exist.

Now, though everyone learns the basics of communicating as they grow and explore, there’s always room for improvement. A lot of people struggle to communicate freely and authentically. They sometimes end up saying things they don’t really mean.

Hence, while communication is important, it’s also imperative for one to keep working on their communication skills to become more effective at it.

8 Communication Exercises

In this section, we are going to describe eight communication exercises that will help you improve your skills. You can try these in pairs or groups. Let’s begin.

I-Statements

An I-statement is a communication technique used to make a request or give feedback in a way that doesn’t trigger a defensive response. When a person feels blamed for something, regardless of whether it’s true, they end up defending themselves. That makes it harder for them to truly listen to what the “accuser” is trying to say.

Using I-statements is a way to prevent that because these let you speak your mind without any attacking or blaming language. Thus, they increase the chances of you being heard.

The structure of an I-statement is: “I feel ________ when ________.”

Here are some examples of I-statements along with their more blaming counterparts.

  • I feel unimportant when my calls and messages don’t get replies. VS Why do you keep ignoring my calls and messages?
  • I feel misunderstood when it’s worded like that. VS You just keep twisting my words!
  • I feel hurt when I’m asked to leave so often. VS You don’t care about how I feel, that’s why you keep kicking me out.

You can learn more about I-statements using this free worksheet.

Assertive Communication

A lot of times, communication is ineffective because of the lack of assertiveness. People tend to suppress their own needs passively to avoid conflict or they come off as too aggressive.

Assertiveness is the perfect balance between communicating passively and aggressively. In this style of communicating, you stand up for your own needs and beliefs, while also respecting the needs of others. It features mutual respect, diplomacy, and directness.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when communicating assertively:

  • Keep an even tone and volume
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Show a confident and open body language
  • Start by talking about the listener’s needs
  • Then mention your needs
  • End with a potential solution or an offer to help

The following are some examples of assertive statements:

  • I know you don’t enjoy doing paperwork but we’re supposed to do this project together and equally. I feel like I’m doing more than my share of the boring stuff. How can we split the tasks so that we both get a chance to do the fieldwork?
  • I can see that you’re angry but I don’t appreciate being spoken to in this tone. Why don’t we calm down and solve this matter respectfully?
  • Hey, I get that you’re quite busy on most days and it’s inspiring to see you work so hard. Nevertheless, you did give me your word that we’ll get this job done two weeks ago. How can I help you carve out some time for this?

Practice making assertive statements through this handy worksheet.

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Reflective Listening

It’s important to understand that communication isn’t all about speaking. A major portion of it involves staying quiet and listening to others. Many people don’t listen to understand but rather wait to respond. 

Practising reflective listening is a way to overcome that unnecessary urge and to communicate more effectively. It’s pretty easy to execute. All you have to do is listen attentively without interrupting the speaker. 

Whenever they pause after making a point, repeat what they said in your own words and ask clarification questions. This lets them feel heard and understood. Besides, even if you get it wrong, the speaker will appreciate your efforts and feel comfortable revealing more information.

Here’s another worksheet that will deepen your understanding of reflective listening.

Minefield

This exercise is a game for groups that helps build trust and communication skills. The rules are pretty simple and the materials required are:

  • A spacious room
  • Small furniture pieces for obstacles
  • A blindfold
  • A timer

How to Play

  • Everyone gets divided into teams of two
  • The room is made into an obstacle course using the furniture
  • One person wears a blindfold while the other has to guide their movement across the room through verbal instructions
  • The idea is to communicate effectively and on time to prevent accidents and complete the task as quickly as possible
  • The team with the lowest time wins

Copycat

Another popular communication exercise is the Copycat game. It is played in pairs and the idea is to improve the team’s listening and speaking skills. 

How to Play

  • The group gets divided into pairs
  • Partners are asked to sit with their backs against each other
  • One partner is given a slip of paper containing the name of a basic object, for example, a bicycle, clock, or toothbrush
  • This partner then instructs the other partner to draw the object on a card but has to do so without naming the object
  • You can only use shapes, location cues, and descriptive words to instruct
  • The other partner has to then guess the object name

Most people struggle to get the name right because of ineffective communication. This game helps participants reflect on how they must word their instructions and listen attentively.

Lend Me A Hand

If you like these pair games for sharpening communication skills, you’ll enjoy Lend Me A Hand too. This is a great exercise for couples or colleagues dealing with communication issues.

 How to Play

  • One person will get their right hand tied to their back and the other person will get their left hand tied to the back
  • Then, they will be given small tasks that require two hands like buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces
  • Since these tasks require both hands to work together, they’ll have to effectively communicate with each other to get them done
  • The team that takes the lowest time to finish the task wins

Simon Says

While this is considered a children’s game, it’s perfect for teaching adults how to listen actively. This is a group exercise that doesn’t require teams. Instead, everyone plays together and one person is assigned the role of Simon.

How to Play

  • Simon will stand in front of the group and shout out instructions while carrying them out too
  • These are calls for actions like jumping, tapping your head, shaking your hands etc.
  • The group is only supposed to carry out the task if the instructions are preceded by “Simon says”
  • Since Simon will be acting out the task regardless of whether they say “Simon says”, people who are not listening actively will end up following the instructions when they’re not supposed to
  • Anyone who does this is out of the game and the last one standing is the winner

Zen Counting

This is probably the most fun group exercise to build communication skills. It addresses the awkward silence brought by pauses between conversations that many people seem to be uncomfortable with.

These silences are necessary for effective communication and they need not be seen as awkward. Zen Counting is the perfect way to teach people to become more comfortable with silences.

How to Play

  • Everyone sits in a circle so that all faces are visible to the whole group
  • The group must start counting from 1 to 50 with one number per person
  • There is no specific sequence of who speaks when
  • By making eye contact and reading each other’s body language, the members must judge when it’s right for one to speak
  • If multiple people speak out a number or a number gets skipped, everyone must start again from 1
  • This encourages everyone to pay attention to each other and get comfortable with the silence

Conclusion

This blog introduced readers to some communication exercises. These were a combination of activities and games that build and sharpen communication skills. Readers first learned about the importance of communication. Then, we explored these exercises in more detail.

The communication exercises mentioned here were I-Statements, Assertive Communication, Reflective Listening, Minefield, Copycat, Lend Me A Hand, Simon Says, and Zen Counting.

What we recommend for Counselling

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression or any other mental disorders then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

FAQs (Communication Exercises)

What are some communication activities?

Here is a list of some communication icebreaker activities:

  • Adjective + Name
  • Two Truths & One Lie
  • Introduction Bingo
  • Listen & Draw
  • Telephone
  • The Memory Test
  • Minefield
  • Eye to Eye
  • 10 Things in Common
  • Body Language Game

What makes a good communication icebreaker?

A good communication icebreaker is inclusive so that all group members have to participate actively. It should also incorporate essential communication skills like giving instructions, listening, following up, trust, body language, and building rapport.

How do you identify your communication style?

There are many online quizzes and tests that you can take to identify your communication style. However, a more reliable way would be to consult a mental health professional. Besides that, you may also read research articles on the web to learn more about which style represents you the best.

References

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