Place a set of toy blocks in a pile central to your group.
Ask each person to pick one or two blocks from the pile.
Invite each person to mingle with others in the group and find one other person with a similar side on their blocks, ie same letter, number, colour, symbol, etc.
Once a similarity is found between two blocks, each pair should take a moment to find at least one personal connection (commonality) that they have with each other.
After a brief conversation, invite each person to mingle in the group again, and match their block with someone new.
Video Transcript for Mingle and Match
presented by Mark Collard
In a moment I’m going to ask you to get back up and grab yourself, I think we’ve got enough for everyone to have one and some of you will end up with two it doesn’t matter, you need to have it just one block each, but I want to have them all off the ground. If you end up with two, but no more than two. Go, go ahead and do that first.
(Each person grabs a block or two.)
Okay, so let’s say, Nigel you’ve actually got two, you’ll notice as with all blocks they will have six sides, but you’ll note that with these particular block they have different things on them. Not just numbers and letters, but other symbols and representations of something.
Here’s how the exercise works, and it’s simple, but often the best things come from that simplicity. It’s that with your one or two blocks your object over the next five to eight minutes, or whenever I say Stop, is to continue to interact with other people looking for matches where you’ve got something in common with the blocks that you are holding.
Now in this case here the colour is not enough. Like we happen to have two colourful green letters, but the letters are different.
And once you have found a match let’s say it was a Z or six let’s say we don’t have anything, but let’s assume that we do. Let’s say we both have goldfish. Nigel and I, and if you don’t know their name quickly introduce yourself so that you can learn another name, have quick 30 second conversation to determine if these are the things that we have in common with our blocks, what do we have in common, and here’s the kicker that is unknown, that is not obvious from the outside. So from the outside what is obvious between Nigel and I? Don’t think too hard.
Good looking. Yeah that’s obvious.
We’re both men. We’re both inside this room. We might be both of a similar age group, or whatever. They are all known because you can see them or understand it. We’re going to be now having a conversation to identify something that is perhaps not known to both of us, and it might be that we’re both the eldest in our family, we both drive Volkswagens. Both of those things would not be known from the outside.
Once we’ve identified that thing that we have in common, swap blocks. So we end up swapping the blocks and then repeat the exercise. Look for something that’s a match and then find the thing that is a match between you and your partner, swap blocks and keep going. Got the idea?
(People begin to partner up to find matches and swapping blocks as part of Mingle and Match.)
How To Play Narrative
Looking for a novel way for your group to meet and greet? Mingle and Match is a simple solution.
Just before, or even as the group is arriving, dump a bunch of wooden ABC123 toy blocks in a central location on the floor or ground. Doing so creates a bit of interest and possibly curiosity as to what the blocks might be for. Perfect.
Ask each person in your group to pick one or two blocks from the pile. Once everyone has a block, explain that they will be mingling about the group looking for a couple of connections. The first connection will be between blocks and the second will be between people.
To start, invite each person to mingle about the group looking for someone with a similar block. By similar block I mean matching the same letter, number, colour, or symbol.
Even symbols with a larger common category, such as animals, could work. Really, if participants discover that the only connection they can make is that they are both holding a six-sided object, then we’re in a good place.
The goal here is to find a commonality between the blocks. When a connection is made, invite each person to introduce themselves by name.
Once a connection is discovered or acknowledged between the blocks, each temporary human pair (the two people psyched or relieved that they found a connection between the blocks) should now survey each other seeking a personal connection beyond the block and beyond what is already known.
Let’s be clear, two people wearing similar coloured shoes is something known. Now, if the shoe colour happens to be the favourite colour of both people, then that would be considered unknown. Woo-hoo!
After a personal connection has been discovered, each person should move on to discovering other exciting connections with other people.
Allow your group to mingle and match for 5 to 10 minutes, at least five connections, or as long as you desire.
Practical Leadership Tips
I find it helpful to mingle and match along with my group. I believe it expresses that I, too, value the opportunity to get to know the group. More importantly, it builds trust among the group and with me as a facilitator.
Swap Blocks: Invite participants to exchange blocks after making a personal connection. Doing so keeps the mingling and matching fresh.
Bigger & Bigger: Once a connection is made, have the newly formed pair mingle and match with other pairs eventually forming groups of four (a quad), then eight, then 16 if you dare. As each new group forms, all group members should seek a collective commonality among the blocks and personal connection as they did in pairs. There is a progressively challenging reward each time a new group is formed and a connection is found.
No Props: Take a look at Commonalities to enjoy a no-prop version of this exercise.
Useful Sequence: Take a look at Bust A Move and Don’t Break The Ice as two wonderful lead-in activities for this exercise, or to create a bunch of random pairs to start.
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