Have you ever thought about just how much we speak with other people during the course of a day? According to a study from the University of Missouri, we spend 70-80% of our day in some form of communication. Of the 70-80%, 9% is spent writing, 16% reading, 30% speaking and 45% is listening (Lee & Hatesohl). Most of our communication is listening to other people. Building good communication skills will allow the youth to learn to not only speak well with others, but also listen well, which seems to be that largest portion of our communication.
Here at the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, we play a few games and do some fun things to practice communication skills with kids. One of the activities that we do is called “The Human Knot.”
“The Human Knot” is a game (demonstrated here by some mentors from our Wisconsin program partners at a training earlier this year) that involves 5 or more participants and needs a lot of communication to untangle.
How to play:
- Get in a circle with everyone facing the middle.
- Everyone raise your right hand, and grab the hand of the person across from them (like you are shaking their hand).
- Now raise your left hand, and grab the hand of someone different but not next to you (if the only hand available, is right next to you it is okay).
- Once every hand has been locked with another hand, you must work your way out of knot until everyone is untangled and makes and a circle is made with hands still together.
This activity takes a lot of communication because the way to get untangled is different every time. In this activity, it is easy to get stuck, but with communication, you can figure out how to get out of the knot. Just like in life, if you are stuck in a situation or are having problems with something or someone, communication is the solution. Yelling at someone is not communication; it makes a things worse by causing tension between you and the person you are speaking with. Calm communication that involves listening and speaking is the best way to work out a situation in any aspect of life.
Another game we like to play is the blindfold maze. This takes 2 or more people and is a great way to learn how to listen well while others are speaking. The person blindfolded must listen to their partner while the direct them through an obstacle course. The goal of this is to reach the other side without hitting any of the obstacles.
If there are any games that you play or any thoughts you may have regarding communication with youth please feel free to comment in the section below.