This is a prop that maybe some of you have seen before and I know that I found a great deal of value with it. It comes from a group called We and Me, or We!, and this is a group that has produced a set of cards with a series of questions called We Connect Cards. You’ll note that we started this morning understanding how we can actually manage to connect with one another.
So to begin. here’s how the exercise will work. In a moment I’m going to place these on the floor, and then once they’re on the floor take any two, but as you take two be sure that you take two different colours. You’ll see that there are three different colours here, so there’s green, purple, and blue. Just grab any two random from this.
And then when you pull back, if it’s possible, look around and find one person you have not partnered with so far today. It’s getting harder and harder but still possible for a group this size.
So to repeat, place on the floor. Take any two but different colours. Pull back and find one person and then I’ll tell you what happens from that point. So once you’ve gathered maybe you want to chitty-chat… Hi, my name is… I’ve forgotten yours, what is it, and then I’ll tell you what happens next. Go.
(people choosing cards)
So each person now should have two cards, and they should also be two different colours. Okay, great. Fantastic.
There are like… some of the best props in any of this programming world are the ones that are the most versatile, they just… they come with lots of different ways in which they can be used.
I’m going to give you a quick medley right now. Here’s your first one.
The two that you’ve picked up are completely random and you’ll note that there are two sides. On one side is like a little stick person demonstrating an exercise. We’ll come back to that. And on the other side is a question.
Focusing on the question, in a moment I’m going to ask you to start mingling around. So you’ve started with one person but you may come back to them later on. So right now just remember who you’re with. You may want to call them your We Connect partner but you may not see them for a little while.
And you’re going to move into a minute of trading. Your objective is at the end of that sixty seconds is that you end up with two really powerful and interesting questions that when you’ve got that you’re going to return to your We Connect partner and actually ask those questions of them.
You might really like the two questions you’ve got now, but once you start looking at other people’s… It needs to be a one-for-one swap. This would not be a one-for-one swap. That is actually taking something from somebody else. But Dante and I might actually go oh yeah, I like that question… It doesn’t matter if it’s the same colour. It just needs to be a one-for-one swap.
After a minute hopefully you’ve got two really powerful questions. Return to your We Connect partner then ask those two questions.
And the best part of this, in fact in many experiences where there’s interaction, is that you the person responding gets to answer it any way you choose. Because you don’t get to choose the question, your partner does, but you get to choose how you respond. So have that land however you choose for that to be.
So got the basics? One minute, find two questions you’re going to be really happy with and then come on back to your We Connect partner and then share that over the course of a minute or two. Go.
(people playing Poker Swap)
Thirty more seconds. Thirty seconds. Trade away.
So at this point you’ve had a little bit of time to trade one or more of your cards. You could argue that you might have had some more time, you would like to still keep swapping, but hopefully you’ve got two good cards you can work with.
Return to your We Connect partner now and have a conversation involving both of those questions.
(people playing Poker Swap)
In a moment you’re about to find yourself a new partner, and that person will be able to match with you because they’re holding a similar colour card to you of the two that you’ve got. Go ahead and do that now.
Find a new partner. Yeah, any one of the two. Any one of the two.
(people finding partners to prepare for next round of Poker Swap)
You get to choose now because clearly you’re holding two cards at the moment. Another variation would be… again now focusing on the other side of the card, choose one of the exercises that each of the two of you, if you feel comfortable, can do together.
Sometimes it’s a stretch, sometimes it’s a movement that you would actually match and do that together.
And then ask the question on your card of your partner and then they will ask the question on their card of you, but perhaps straight after they’ve done their stretch with you.
So we got a stretch and a question, a stretch and a question. Take a couple of minutes. Go.
(people playing Poker Swap)
How To Play Narrative
Imagine a game of poker where the cards have questions on them and the goal of the game is to establish the most interesting set of questions.
Poker Swap allows each individual to shape their conversations with questions that they find interesting and meaningful, ensuring awkward silences are eliminated.
To start, allow each person to choose three random cards from a deck of We Connect Cards and familiarise themselves with the questions. You could also create your own set of conversation starts questions, written on index cards.
Next, invite your group to mingle with one another for up to 5 minutes to compare and exchange cards. Explain that each person’s aim is to hold three of the most interesting questions (cards) they can keep at the end of the trading period.
Each pair may only trade one card per person, and all trades must be mutual, ie both people must be willing to make the exchange, otherwise, a swap does not occur.
Despite the name of the activity, don’t worry about keeping a poker face – explain that letting others know what kind of questions you are passionate about will make the activity more fun and comfortable.
After everyone has assembled their best conversation poker hand, call the group back together. Invite them to choose one person in the group they would like to get to know better as their poker partner (or use a random method such as those described in Getting Into Pairs.)
Give these pairs 10-15 minutes to use their cards to fuel conversations with the questions they chose.
There is no prize for the pair that completes their questions first – the purpose of the activity is to let natural conversations sprout from the questions on the cards. This gives everyone the chance to ask interesting questions without the stress of starting the conversation first.
If time permits, invite each person to find a new partner to initiate a new conversation.
Practical Leadership Tips
Like any physical structure, a conversation needs a solid foundation. Great questions serve as the foundation for great conversations.
You can grab a set of We Connect Cards here (if you live in Australia) and here (for everyone else.) Or, download the questions in the Resources tab of Ice-Breaker Question Exchange as a useful substitute.
Frame the trading phase of this activity as healthy competition for each person to design the best conversation they can. This incentive can motivate a great discussion about why some people are willing to trade their questions, or not.
If the group has an odd number of people, grab three cards yourself and join in the conversation.
Watch out for anyone complaining about the questions they end up with. Frame any negativity as a chance to show that our conversations depend on our questions only as much as our attitudes allow!
Invite your group to consider how their conversation compares to an ‘average’ conversation. This review may provide valuable learnings and insights into how people can continue to create meaningful conversations that build connections.
If time allows, and you believe there is interest, invite one or more people at the conclusion of the partner conversations to share something interesting they learned about their partner.
You could integrate Poker Swap 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:
Linking Feelings, Values & Thoughts
Identifying Personal, Cultural & Linguistic Assets
You can learn more about SEL and how it can support character education here.
Health & Wellness Programming
There is no specific health & wellness perspective to this activity other than promoting the benefits to one’s well-being of engaging socially with others in the group.
In a small way, you could argue that the focus and energy required to positively interact and engage with others in a conversation may speak to the benefits of having developed a set of supportive and healthy behavioural norms in advance. Or, if not, you could use these less-than-desired interactions or outcomes to explore what sorts of behaviours your group would prefer to see. For example, you could invite your group to reflect on the level of fairness and consent that was demonstrated during the trading period and relate this to a set of observed impacts on others.
If you can think of more explicit ways in which Poker Swap could be purposefully integrated into a health and wellness program, please leave a comment at the base of this page.
More or Less Cards: Vary the number of cards each person starts within their original hand. This will influence both the depth and length of your group’s conversations.
Small-Group Conversations: Invite groups of three or four people to gather and get to know one another. Naturally, these conversations will take longer than simple pairings.
Creative name-game that inspires fun & imagination.
Rapid & highly interactive greeting exercise for groups.
Fast-paced & challenging name-recall group initiative.
Useful Framing Ideas
Everyone we meet has something to teach us. In this next activity, you have the opportunity to create your perfect ‘hand’ of questions to ask another person. Choose your questions based on what you are most interested to learn about someone else…
Like any physical structure, a conversation needs a solid foundation. Great questions serve as the foundation for great conversations, and this exercise has many to share…
It is believed that most people are quite willing to share in a conversation with someone they don’t know, if only they knew what to say to them. Well, in this exercise, you will…
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 get-to-know-you game:
Which question did you ask that you liked the most? Why?
What was the most interesting question you were asked? Why?
Did it help to have a set of questions to spark your conversation in the beginning, or a hindrance?
How did your conversation compare to the ‘average’ conversation?
What makes a great conversation?
The inspiration for Poker Swap was sourced from Chad Littlefield, who is the founder and developer of the highly versatile We Connect Cards: