Announce that you will shortly present a series of fun greetings for your group to try.
Demonstrate your first greeting with a volunteer, eg a slight nod of the head to each other as you pass.
For example, smile and say “G’DAY MATE,” or bow to the other person, or wink your eye, etc.
Invite your group to engage in this greeting with as many others in the group until you say “STOP.”
Continue to introduce more greetings, each one a little more interactive (perhaps threatening) than the one before it.
Video Transcript for Partner Greetings
presented by Mark Collard
Given that I come from another part of the world, we do celebrate within the world of adventure learning that it’s not necessarily the domain of Australia or the United States of America. In effect its beauty is that it’s universal.
And so this next exercise invites you to imagine the greetings from around the world. And it begins rather simply as you simply mingle around is to simply nod at one another.
It’s that standard thing when you’re in a group you don’t actually know each other but you might sort of just give a little bit of a nod, a bit of an acknowledgement.
You don’t need to say anything. You don’t need to touch them at all. Just do that over the next 7.8 seconds and go.
(people nodding at each other as part of Partner Greetings)
Okay, very good. You can hold it where you are. It’s fantastic.
Now we then move it up a little step and we become a little bit more sensitive is that you’re actually going to give a wink to somebody. It’s almost as if you kind of know them, it might be just because you’ve actually passed them a moment ago, and you give them a little bit of a wink. It’s like…
How many people give you a wink?
(people winking at each other as part of Partner Greetings)
Alright. Very good. Let’s move our way to the UK, the United Kingdom now where we’re very English, very proper, we’re standing very upright and stiff upper lip and the whole thing, and we should be just nodding our hat at each other as we pass and mingle by each other, and go.
(people nodding hats at each other as part of Partner Greetings)
Feel free to throw in a little “How do you do”.
(people greeting each other)
Very good. Moving all the way back to where I’ve come from, what is the standard greeting you would stereotypically know that we would use apparently in Australia for saying hello to someone? G’Day, Mate.
In your best Australian accent, this works so much better over here than it does back home, how many people can you say “G’day Mate” to in this group starting from now? Go.
(people greeting each other)
Alright. Very good.
How To Play Narrative
With your group gathered in front of you, explain that you will soon invite each person to interact with others in the group while engaging in a series of fun greetings.
One at a time, demonstrate about five or six quick, distinct, yet culturally ambiguous greetings, each one inviting a little more ‘risk’ (read ‘silliness’) than the one before it.
After each demonstration, ask your group to adopt this greeting with as many others in the group until you say “STOP” (about 10 to 15 seconds.)
Continue to introduce more greetings, each one a little more challenging or interactive than the one before it.
Here’s a few examples, presented in a sequence which demonstrates a progression of sort:
Passer-by – a slight nod of the head as you walk on by someone, which says ‘I-see-you-there-but-don’t-wish-to-talk-to-you.’
English Person – take off your hat and nod acknowledgement of the other as you pass them.
Aussie – smile and say “G’DAY MATE” in your best ‘ocker’ accent as you pass on by.
Yankee Doodle Dandy – go right up to someone, shake their hands, and say “HOW YA DOIN?” in your best American drawl.
Secret Admirer – a smile and a wink of the eye, perhaps a turn your head, as you pass by that person.
Japanese Doll – stand in front of your partner, bow and say something appropriately Japanese, such as “YAMAHA,” “MITSUBISHI” or “SUSHI ROLL.”
Sumo Wrestler – puff yourself up, push your tummy out and walk as if your legs were made of lead balloons, and bounce (gently) off the tummy of another sumo wrestler.
Babylonian – back up to your partner, bend forward, and poke your hand back and through your legs to shake the hand of your partner doing the same thing (ie your butts might greet too!)
French – press your lips against….. ummm, er, only kidding!
Once you have progressed through a series of paired greetings, you group will be pumped and ready to move on.
Practical Leadership Tips
Consider your sequence before launching into this exercise. It may take time for some people to ‘warm-up’ and engage in some of the more ‘threatening’ interactions in your repertoire. However, if you have taken the time to prepare your group mentally and emotionally, your group will respond accordingly.
To repeat, always begin this exercise with the least threatening interaction first, and if that is successful, introduce a more challenging level.
Where communication is involved in a particular greeting, encourage people to use their name to introduce themselves to the other.
While you really only need a handful of people to make this activity work, the more the merrier. I’ve presented this activity at a conference with more than 200 people – it went off!
You could integrate Partner Greetings as part of a well-designed SEL program to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse people.
Specifically, this activity offers opportunities to explore and practice the following social & interpersonal skills:
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
We are well aware that we communicate with more than just the words we speak. Our non-verbal gestures and cues also covey a lot of information and this is especially true when greeting and interacting with one another. To this end, the series of partner greetings that you introduce could be used to help your group read a variety of social cues and social situations. For example, the compassion expressed in one’s eyes toward another person, or the distracted looks of your partner when they are speaking with you all tell a story.
Be sure to explore the fact that one particular gesture can be interpreted in vastly different ways in different cultures. For example, the physical thumbs-up gesture can convey both a positive and negative message depending on the culture in which it is used.
Alternative Themes: Develop all manner of themes to your greetings, allowing each level to get progressively more difficult/fun. For example, if you’re working with children, develop a series of greetings for fish starting from shy, little minnows to huge, confident whales.
Fun partner-stretching exercise with lots of twists.
Innovative balance & stretching exercise for partners.
Useful Framing Ideas
If you’ve been fortunate to travel the world, you will know that different cultures have adopted different ways of greeting and welcoming one another. For example, it is common for someone in the USA or Australia to shake the hand of someone they are meeting for the first time, whereas in Japan, it is considered courteous to bow towards the other. This next exercise celebrates the diversity of the most culturally ambiguous greetings I’ve come across in my travels…
In a stereotypical sense, what types of partner greetings do you often think of when you consider different countries and cultures of the world? In the UK, for example, it is very common for people to shake hands, yet in Japan, it is common for people to bow to one another. So, to start, I would like you all to imagine that we are English men and women and are greeting one another for the very first time…
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, yet silly ice-breaker game:
What did you notice during the exercise?
What range of feelings did you experience as the activity progressed?
Which of the series of interactions were the least threatening in your opinion? Why?
Do you think cultural background influences our decisions in regards to comfortable interactions? Give examples?
What other partner greetings are you aware of belonging to a particular community or group?
Fun ‘Arrival-Get-To-Know-You’ Session
What You Need:
10+ people, 40 mins, set of Alphabet Equation cards (Print+Play)