Say Please

This is another jolt in the facial anatomy series. I enjoy using parts of my body as props because they are portable and personalized. This jolt is a modification of the children’s game, Simon Says, recycled to highlight a couple of important learning points.


The facilitator gives instructions to touch different parts of the face. The participants are required to follow these instructions only if the facilitator says, “Please”.  The debriefing discussion involves figuring out why the participants make mistakes in following the instructions.


To demonstrate the tendency to rush into action without listening completely to the other person.

Training Topics

  • Listening skills
  • Anticipation
  • Walking the Talk


Minimum: 1

Maximum: Any number

Best: 5 to 30


3 minutes for the activity

3 minutes for debriefing


Brief the participants. Tell them that you will ask them to touch different parts of their face. They should follow your instructions rapidly. However, they should do so only if you say, “Please”. If you don’t use, “Please”, the participants should not do anything.

Give instructions in a random order. Refer to different parts of the face. Follow some of your instructions with “Please”. Don’t say “Please” with some instructions. Ask the participants to watch each other to see who makes mistakes.

  • Touch your chin.
  • Touch your left ear lobe, please.
  • Touch your nose, please.
  • Touch your hair, please.

Demonstrate the required actions. Continue to give the instructions while simultaneously performing the action yourself. After the participants get used to this, say something and do something else. For example, say, “Touch your cheek, please,” while touching your nose.

Continue the activity. Keep giving random instructions in a fast pace for a couple of minutes.


Playfully ask the participants to raise their hands if they did not make even a single mistake.

Ask the participants why some of them followed your instructions even though you did not say, “Please”. Use the responses to identify our tendency to anticipate what the other person is going to say and spring into action even before listening completely to the request.

Ask the participants to share workplace examples of rushing to act without listening completely.

Discuss mistakes made by the participants when you said something and did something else. Point out that people have a tendency to do what you do rather than what you say.

Ask the participants to share workplace examples of people doing what their leaders are doing instead of doing what their leaders ask them to do.

Learning Points

  1. People anticipate what you are going to say even before you say it. Sometimes this leads to incorrect guesses.
  2. People frequently spring into action without listening completely to what the other person is saying.
  3. People tend to do what you do instead of what you ask them to do.