Chinese Puzzle

“Chinese Puzzle” is great. I have no idea why it should have this name or where I learned it!

Have your group stand up in a close circle (10 to 16 people is best). They close their eyes put their hands into the circle and find two hands and hold on. Then they open their eyes and sort out glitches where some people are in a “three” or have an unconnected hand.

Then the group has to try to get back into a circle without letting go, though they can change their grip, of course.

Sometimes they end up in a circle, or interlocking circles, separate circles or intractable knots. This “silly game” always causes much laughter, which releases energy and can also encourage people to take a few more risks later.

It is light hearted but the learning can be about closeness, risk taking, touch, status, the value of play and whether “dignity” is worth standing on.

I would only use this when you judge the group is ready.

“Silly” exercises can be powerful. I once ran with a friend a short session with a group of trainers at a conference. We all had a few minutes to design and test an activity that was too “silly” to be able to run at work. The results were terrific, we learned a lot as trainees and trainers. The session stretched us all out of our comfort zone into our creative zone.


If you would like help using this idea, or have any comments or questions please contact me. Thanks, Nick