a group exercise allowing participants to unpack a complex social issue together
What is it for?
This exercise is a facilitation tool for having difficult conversations. It encourages participants to think through someone else’s position and reflect on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors they would have.
It allows each person to reflect on their feelings and actions, discuss and align on how to respond to a new concept, program, or principle.
What does it look like?
First, the storyteller thinks of a relevant and challenging experience they had. This may be about an escalating conversation or a response to a person at risk, for instance. They think through what the setting, climax, and conclusion are. Then, they tell the story out loud to the group.
The facilitator pauses the story right before the storyteller shares the climactic event. The audience is asked to pair up and talk through what they would feel, think, then do if they were in that position at that moment. The storyteller concludes the story by sharing what actually did happen — what they felt, thought, and did.
The storytelling is closed with an open discussion about what they discussed in pairs, how that coincided with what actually happened, and what the ideal response might be.
Participants’ State of Mind
attentive, sympathetic, reflective
Level of Complexity (1–5)
Time for Participation
30 to 60 mins
Adapted to Matter–Mind Studio from facilitator, Dana Johnson. Facilitated event hosted by friends of the studio, Project Inkblot at a screening of Fit the Description; A Series of Conversations Between Black Male Officers and Civilians. Neue House in New York City, 2016.