Ask each person to casually shake the hands of their immediate left- and right-hand neighbours.
Next, invite everyone to shake hands with as many people as possible without moving their feet.
Still in a circle, invite your group to shake the hands of as many people as possible using only one pivot foot.
Starting from a circle again, invite your group to shake the hands of as many people as possible by moving freely about the space.
Video Transcript for Stationary Handshakes
presented by Mark Collard
Can I ask just to get comfortable about where your feet are situated, and there’s basically a gap of maybe 30 to 40 centimetres between your own feet and those of your neighbours. So if you need to move accordingly, go ahead and do that. Okay, fantastic.
When you think of it, one of the most common ways in which often two people who have not met before physically will engage in a particular greeting. What would that often be?
A handshake, exactly. It looks a bit like this. Fantastic. Exactly.
So I’m going to give you immediately a score of two for every handshake you make by simply shaking the hands of your left and right neighbours. Go ahead. And if you wish to introduce yourself, go ahead and do that too.
Hi, I’m Mark.
Kelley, good to see you. And Mark.
(Mark, nice to meet you.)
And your name again is?
Good to see you, Ozzy.
Alright, so that’s a score of two. Now without your feet moving from their place, that is they are fixed in place, your object now is to score as many points as is possible.
I know for example I could like really stretch out and actually shake Bea’s hand. That gives me three points now, which obviously I can do on the right hand side too.
Without your feet moving from their spot, without moving off the ground, what can you now do? Over to you.
(people shaking hands in Stationary Handshakes)
Alright now you’ve seen a little bit of innovation now. Feel free. Again the object was that your feet wouldn’t leave their spot. You may be up to six or seven or eight now. Can you go beyond into double digits now extending yourself if necessary?
Go. See what you need to do.
(people shaking hands as part of Stationary handshakes)
How To Play Narrative
Looking for an effective way to introduce Challenge by Choice, the notion of stretching beyond our comfort zone, or simply offer your group a novel way to say “HELLO”? This is it.
Gather your group into a circle, you included. Casually invite each person to greet their neighbours (the people to their immediate left and right) with a resounding introduction or greeting, such as “HI, MY NAME IS NATE!” or “GOOD MORNING!”
Once these initial greetings have concluded, invite each person to greet as many people as possible without moving their feet.
While many people will express and demonstrate an obvious sense of limitation, there may be a few people who creatively move beyond these boundaries by exploring handshakes from a ‘push-up’ position or by asking for the support of their stretched-out neighbours. Applaud this innovation.
After a minute or two and just before interest wanes, invite each person to, again, greet as many people as possible, this time stretching a bit further by using a pivot foot.
Each person must keep one foot fixed (on the original circle) while stepping in or out with the other. Your group should experience a bit more success and interaction than the first round.
At this point your group will likely return to a circle, waiting for your next instruction for the fourth round. And, here it is… invite them now to move anywhere within the space, completely unrestricted in their movements, to greet as many people as possible.
Your group is now warmed up, full of energy, and ready to move on…
Practical Leadership Tips
Between rounds, I like to use a prescribed signal (eg holding a circle formed with my thumb and index finger above my head) to silently invite everyone back into the circle.
Observe a curious human behavioural trait when you ask your group to return to the circle – most if not all individuals will return to their original spot in the circle. Note this observation with your group, and distinguish your language. You invited them to “return to the circle” not “your spot in the circle.” This language nuance provides you with a wonderful opportunity to ask the following questions, in this order:
How many people find themselves in a new spot in the circle?
How many people returned to their original spot?
Why do you think this occurred?
Expect responses such as “We’re creatures of habit,” “It’s my spot, I don’t like change” or “It’s comfortable and familiar.” All of these responses are excellent leads for introducing the concept of Challenge by Choice, stretching beyond one’s comfort zone, or trying something new.
When exploring the tip above, I like to offer another “GO” to practice stretching, Challenge by Choice, or the like. Introduce a fifth round and invite each person to scan the group, and greet at least one other person they have not met yet (and anyone else) in the next 13.7 seconds. Use a prescribed signal to invite your group back into a circle and playfully check-in using the same questions above.
Left-Hand Shakes: Invite everyone to use their left hand only.
Pivot-No-Pivot: Try switching the order of the first two rounds. Invite your group to greet as many people as possible using a pivot foot first and then, without moving their feet.
Silence: Introduce each round without talking.
Creative Stationary Handshakes: Invite your group to suggest a unique ‘greeting’ and incorporate this into the exercise, eg shake hands under your legs.
Handshake Initiative: Take a look at Alter Shake to introduce a challenging group initiative involving a particular sequence of handshakes.
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Ha Ha Ha Game
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Useful Framing Ideas
I’ve got a challenge which is sure to stretch you. It will also enable you to think about what it means to stretch…
Challenge by Choice is an opportunity for us to step out of our comfort zones and try something new. Let’s see what that feels like…
Relationships and community are built when people reach out to others beyond people close to them. How willing are you to reach out to others? This next exercise will provide an opportunity to discover what that’s like…
Inventive ‘Ice-Breaker & Name-Game’ Session
What You Need: 10+ people, 40 mins
Props: ‘Signature Bingo’ sheet (Print+Play) & pen for each person, wooden toy/alphabet blocks