Context: Often/ideally used as a way to start a meeting, in a group of < 30 people when there's limited time, and the intentions are cooperative/collaborative.
Intention: An exercise in listening to others, an exercise in speaking and feeling heard by the entire group, an exercise in waiting your turn, an exercise in expressing and listening personal emotions, an exercise in wordplay.
(It's a little cheesy, but incredibly nice/effective/helpful, especially in a cooperative or classroom setting, and has a marked effect on how people communicate/listen to each other).
1. Explanation: "Let's do a one-word check-in ritual to start the meeting. What's one single word that represents (a shape that represents about how your body is feeling / a flavor to represent your past week / an adjective that represents your day so far?). We'll then pass it on to another person."
Example: "I'll start: my word is 'octagon / salty-sweet / juicy'. (pause) I'll pass it onto Taylor."
(This example step is the most important; without an example, other social norms will prevail. E.g. "I'm working on a startup about flavor, actually...". But by starting and setting an example that feels especially like a playful non-sequitur, there's a chance to suspend existing social patterns and establish new ones. By explicitly passing it onto another person, a social tone is set for everyone to look and listen to Taylor to say their word, rather than jumping in and interrupting each other. Also, if this is a new group that doesn't know each other that well, go clockwise in a circle, or open a space to be apologetic by passing it onto someone you don't know: "I'll pass it to you.. in the red shirt. I'm sorry, what's your name? Okay, I'll pass it to Astra!"
Everyone participates. Occasionally, the ritual creator may have to step in to remind people that they should nominate the next person to say their word "(Who do you nominate to go next?)", or in some cases, to reduce their response to a single word. ("Can you try condensing it into a single word?")
End. ("Great! I'm glad to be here with you all. Let's start the meeting.") Depending on the group, you can all take a deep breath together, meditate, or just start.
- Chris Chavez of Prime Produce