019 – Interpretation of Stories

  1. Get into pairs and sit on the floor facing one another. 
  2. Share a significant moment from the week with each other. One person from each pair will share his or her story as the teller. The other person will focus intently as the listener but remain silent. The purpose of the activity is to listen to your partner with total focus and with your whole body, and to try to catch the three main messages of the story they have picked. 
  3. After the tellers have shared their stories, the listeners stand up in front of the tellers and the rest of the group and create three still images based on their understanding and interpretation of the story they have just heard. The images can be realistic or symbolic.
  4. The group discusses what they think the teller’s original story was. 
  5. The teller then responds to both the listener and the group’s interpretation of their story. 
  6. The listener and teller swap roles and repeat.


Note: This exercise explores our universal (mis)understanding of verbal and non-verbal communication. 


After the pairs have exchanged their stories and images, you may want to hold an image gallery. The first listener from each group may select one of the three images which best represent the heart of the story and hold the image. The tellers from all of the pairs can walk around the space, looking at the different images from each group. Do the same after the listeners and tellers have swapped roles. 


Following the exercise, you might prompt the group to find similarities and differences in the images and stories.


  • What were the common themes? 
  • What did you see? 
  • How does this exercise make you feel as a listener and as a teller? 
  • What assumptions or preconceptions were raised?

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