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Diversity Games and Activities * Community Share

Our informal discussion about diversity training shed light on the resistance trainers face when conducting DEI training. We also pooled ideas for diversity training tips and activities that help lessen resistance, build understanding about the topic, and strengthen individual’s sensitivity to both common and unique experiences. I wanted to share some of these ideas in more detail:


Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change

This theory was developed in the late 1970s to understand the process of change for smokers deciding to quit. The model consists of 5 phases:

  • Pre-contemplation – not thinking about changing their behavior or the potential benefits of change.
  • Contemplation – thinking about behavior change, but not yet acting on the intention.
  • Preparation – ready to change but not yet action on the intention.
  • Action – beginning steps towards adopting the behavior but with a high risk of relapse.
  • Maintenance – maintaining the behavior

For diversity training facilitators, understanding this model helps us appreciate that some attendees enter training in a pre-contemplation phase. As trainers, we must meet our participants wherever they are and help them see why the topic might pique their interest or see DEI initiatives in a new light. To figure out where our participants’ heads are, we might ask:

  • If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?
  • How would you characterize yourself? As a Seeker, Vacationer, or Prisoner? Stand up or raise your hand if any of these describe you. Explain, while everyone may have different feelings about diversity training, every person has agency and choices. Whether or not you were asked or encouraged to attend, you decided to walk in and sit down. So, let’s make the most of it.

Introduce the “Gift of Dialogue” and the “Gift of Knowledge”

Another diversity training tip offered was to explain the value of dialogue. Dialogue and conversation allow DEI training participants to pool their knowledge and learn more about the topic, a first step to building a scaffolding to which more memories can be added. Remember, the goal is simply, learning. Begin the learning by explaining what D.E. and I are.  Add a “B” to the end of it, and talk about “Belonging” as well.

Play that epic Ted Lasso Clip

In the last season of the TV miniseries, Ted Lasso explains that “being okay” with someone’s homosexuality isn’t enough. We need to go further to befriend and include others.


Explore Implicit Bias

Many come into diversity training with no understanding or appreciation of the prevalence of bias. To broaden their understanding about what it looks like, you can:

    • Share a list of types of bias including: Affinity bias, Ageism, Anchor bias, Attribution bias, Beauty bias, Confirmation bias, Conformity bias, Contrast effect, Gender bias, Halo effect, Height bias, Horn effect, Name bias, Nonverbal bias, Overconfidence bias. You’ll find examples of these online.
    • Use the 52 Essential Critical Thinking Card deck – discuss the bias or effect described on the Essential Critical Thinking Card and identify a similar situation in your own world. The 50 Ways to Fight Bias deck also looks great.
    • Try an implicit bias test – Have each participant take a different test and share what they learned about how their test attempted to tease out bias you might not have known you had.
  • Reflect on your own relationships – ask participants to list 3 work friends; 3 friends outside of work; and 3 people with whom they have interactions. They might see that most of these people are like themselves.

With all of these experiences, there should be no judgment. It’s all okay. The goal is simply to raise awareness.

Challenge assumptions

Similar to being unaware of our biases, we can also be blind to the assumptions we make. The Arm Exercise and Challenging Assumptions Puzzle are great tools to make this point and add to our roster of diversity training tips.


  • Affinity Group Posters – Put up posters around the meeting room, each labeled with a quality or experience. For instance, Black female; Disabled; Single mom; Mental Illness; Substance Abuse; etc. Post 10-20 posters around the room, depending on the number of participants. Ask individuals to stand by one of the posters that speak to them and they have some connection.  Have them take 5 mins or so to speak with others who have assembled by the same poster. After the time is up, have them find another poster with which they have some connection and repeat the exercise.
  • Foster Allies – Encourage those who feel excluded to find allies among others who feel excluded. While feeling “different” can be a lonely experience, having multiple differences (i.e. having a disability compounded and speaking with an accent) is even more isolating. Encourage those groups to join forces to support each other and consider naming those support groups to reflect inclusivity.


  • Establish ground rules – post the agreements for all to see. If someone violates one of the agreements, quietly walk over and point to the rule that was violated. It makes the point.
  • Acknowledge hurt feelings
    • Ouch Cards – give participants a card that says “OUCH.” If something stings, they can indicate hurt without derailing the conversation. Facilitators can take note, acknowledge that response, understand the cause, and use it as an opportunity for shared understanding.
    • Foam Brick – Some lighten the mood by having people throw a foam brick if they feel frustrated or hurt. It doesn’t work for all, but some have had success with this technique.
    • Parking Lot – Keep a list of ideas that arise, which need further discussion, more information, or input from “higher-ups.” At the end of the session, refer back to the list and make a plan to revisit those topics. It’s okay to admit that you don’t have all the answers but will work with the group to find resolution or expand conversations around difficult topics.
  • Begin with small group discussions – many feel much safer talking with 1, 2, or 4 people, rather than in a big group. Because people are more likely to talk one-on-one, than in a group, structure conversations to begin small.
    • 1-2-4- ALL
      • Put a prompt out and invite everyone to think about it
      • Pair-& Share – those two chat
      • Fours – two pairs find each other and chat between themselves
    • Card swaps: Question card decks can get people talking. Begin with light conversations like UNZiP-IT Getting To Know You questions or an Ungame card deck. As people grow more familiar, you can move to deeper questions. Try facilitating the activity like this: Have each participant select a card, find a partner, and discuss the topics on their two cards. Then have them swap cards and find a new partner. More people talking vs. with the Thumball. Walking around also helps people open up


  • Stories behind names – have people share the story behind their names.
  • Community Puzzle – give each person a blank puzzle piece or flower to decorate with images that are meaningful to them, and reflect their values or heritage. Create a mosaic and see how beautiful you are as a group. Discuss what’s on the pieces, to uncover both individuals’ uniqueness and commonalities.
  • I AM but I’M NOT – Create a poster or write on notepads, “I AM…” but “I’m NOT…” This becomes great fodder for conversation about personal identity and misconceptions.


Trainers need to find allies too. Seek managers and trainers within your organization who can help develop a culture that celebrates diversity and acceptance. Admit to your group that you don’t expect to have all the answers, but you hope (as a community) that you can start to build a common understanding, start to develop trust, and grow together.



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