What if…. participants don’t join the debrief?


What you will see:

  • Lack of eye contact with you, especially after you ask a question.
  • Minimal one-word responses to your questions
  • Shoulders shrugging
  • Silence

Likely Causes:

  • They did not understand your question
  • You haven’t given them enough time to formulate an answer.
  • They fear embarrassment of a ‘wrong’ answer in front of you or your peers.
  • They are angry about something – may be unrelated to the activity.

How to Prevent it:

  • Ask questions slowly and with patience.
  • Pause after each question.  This pause may feel like an eternity to you, but it will give participants the time they need to consider a response.
  • Unless they are too far off, accept and appreciate all responses.  This is an opportunity to appreciate the diverse thinking styles of your team.

What to Do:

  • Reword or restate questions only if the group tells you they didn’t understand the question; otherwise let them think.
  • As a last resort, call on participants by name to respond.
  • Explain that the activity is only as valuable as our ability to transfer what we learned from it back to the workplace.  WE can start doing that by discussing these questions.
  • After asking a question, offer your own observation.  Then ask what others saw that was similar to or different from what you just shared.
  • After asking a question, of your own observation.  Then ask what others saw that was similar or different from what you shared.
  • When you get responses, emphatically thank the first few participants for contributing.


Adapted from Quick Team-Building Activities for Busy Managers by Brian Miller.



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