Form a circle sitting in chairs, facing into the centre.
Nominate yourself to be the first Asker, standing in the centre of the circle (without a seat.)
The Asker will approach any random person in the circle (called the Responder) and ask them “DO YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOURS?”
The Responder will reply in one of two ways:
– “NO” – each of their two neighbours (seated left and right of them) must vacate their seats and attempt to quickly move into the other neighbour’s seat; or
– “YES” – the Responder must immediately state a particular qualifying condition such as “I LOVE PEOPLE WITH BLUE EYES.” Everyone who matches this description is invited to leave their seat, and quickly find a newly-vacated seat.
On all occasions, regardless of the response, the Asker will attempt to fill a vacated seat.
Once all seats have been re-filled, the person without a seat will become the new Asker and approach a new Responder.
Play continues for 10 to 15 minutes, or until your group loses enthusiasm.
How To Play Narrative
Ask your group to form a circle sitting in chairs, facing into the centre, with half to one metre between each person.
To demonstrate the process, nominate one person (perhaps you?) to become the Asker. This person will start in the middle of the circle (without a seat) and approach a random person in the circle to ask a simple question “DO YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOURS?”
Often, after exchanging dodgy glances to their left and right, this person (let’s call them the Responder) will respond in one of two ways.
If they say “NO,” the two people directly next to them, ie their neighbours, automatically jump out of their seats and attempt to swap positions. The fun part is, the Asker is also trying to snatch a seat. Three doesn’t go into two empty seats, so one of them ends up ‘in the middle’ to ask the next question, repeating the process.
However, if the Responder says “YES,” they must immediately state a particular qualifying condition such as “I LOVE PEOPLE WITH BLUE EYES.” Every person in the group who matches this description – and this will include the Responder’s two neighbours if they happen to qualify as well – is invited to leave the safety of their seat in the circle, and quickly find another vacant seat.
Again, the Asker is seeking to nab a seat too. Note, the qualifying condition does not have to apply to the subject’s neighbours – it’s just something the Responder makes up to move the group about.
The thrill of anticipating a “YES” or “NO” answer tends to keep people on the edge of their seats, ready to ‘snap-into-action’ and create a frenzy of traffic inside the circle.
Given the potential for frenetic traffic inside the circle, it’s often useful to remind your group to be conscious of other people also shopping frantically for empty seats.
Practical Leadership Tips
This activity works just as well standing up as is it does sitting down, so it’s up to you. If you or your group are pooped, find a seat. Otherwise, distribute enough spot markers, carpet squares, etc for your group to have one each, or in their absence, ask each person to take one shoe off and place it on the floor to mark their spot in the circle.
All moves on “YES” are voluntary – ie Challenge by Choice. That is, even if an individual sitting in the circle could answer ‘Yes’ to a particular question, they do not have to move if they feel embarrassed or too threatened to do so.
Naturally, with the potential for lots of frenetic movement within a confined space, consider the abilities of your group and the sequence of your program activities to keep the game fun and safe for everyone.
Once started, your group will be asking the questions, so it’s your job to ensure that the questions remain appropriate and sensitive to the needs of your group.
Health & Wellness Programming
The interactive and (potentially) intimate nature of this activity makes it an ideal experience to present as a part of any program that develops social and interpersonal competencies. In particular, you could invite your group to reflect on the array of social cues that are exhibited during the activity, such as sideways glances, sneaky smiles and furrowed brows. Talk about what all of these signals could mean in the context of human relationships and how one could respond.
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
The competitive and physical attributes of this activity may provide you with a valuable lens through which to view the ways in which group members look after one another. For example, if their behaviours demonstrate no regard for other people’s safety in the way they attempt to grab an empty seat, this could be an indicator of other undesirable behaviours within the life of the group. Also, monitor the types of questions that are being asked, and perhaps, even how they are being asked. Poorly framed or distasteful questions may reflect on the abilities of your group to self-regulate and/or their ability to make responsible decisions.
Any Question: If you consider the “Do you love your neighbours?” question a little too-intimate for your group, try any question that can be answered with a YES or NO answer. For example, “DO YOU LOVE MATHEMATICS?” or “DO YOU LOVE PIZZA?”
Two Sets of Neighbours: Invite two neighbours to both the left and right of the Responder (making four people in total) to move positions. Ensure that anyone seated to the left of the subject, moves to the right, and vice versa.
Nominated Neighbours: When the Responder says “NO,” he or she will call the names of any two people in the circle. These two people and the Responder’s two neighbours (total of four people) must vacate their seat and find a new one.
Qualifying Neighbours: Introduce the rule that for “YES” the Responder will state a condition or description that must apply to at least one of his or her neighbours. This is an awesome exercise for groups who already know each other a little.
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Useful Framing Ideas
Even groups that think that they know each other pretty well will often learn something about others in this next exercise…
Love is a pretty strong word, it can make you think when you’re asked – “Do you love … something?” Sometimes it’s a definite Yes, or No, or maybe it depends. And then when this love involves real people, it’s gets even more complicated. Love has so many shades and perspectives, but not in this next game – it’s purely a bit of harmless fun…
Reflection Tips & Strategies
Coupled with one or more reflection strategies, here are some sample questions you could use to process your group’s experience after playing this highly interactive, community-building game:
How did it feel when the centre person directly asked you the question?
Were you under pressure to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No?’ If so, why?
What makes this game fun?
Fun & Interactive ‘Get-To-Know-You’ Session
What You Need: 12+ people, 30 mins, chairs for everyone
Wiggle Waggle – nonsensical hand exercise to generate focus and energy