Worries and Wishes

Here’s an opener that involves teams of people sharing their expectations and suggestions about the training session. The activity taps on the emotional intelligence of the team members.


Ask each participant to secretly write a negative expectation about the training session. Randomly select one of these negative expectations and ask all team members to offer friendly suggestions for reducing its probability. Repeat the procedure with the other negative expectations. Later, replay the game with each participant writing a positive expectation and discussing friendly advice on how to increase its probability.


To brainstorm strategies for removing negative experiences and increasing positive experiences of the training session.


  • Minimum: 3
  • Maximum: Any number, divided into teams of 3 to 5.
  • Best: 12 to 30


20 to 30 minutes, depending on the number of participants in each team


  • Blank pieces of paper
  • Pens or pencils

Room Set-Up

Arrange seats around tables to accommodate each team


Organize teams. Divide the participants into teams of 3 to 5 people each. Seat the members of team around a table.

Ask for negative expectations. Tell the participants to think of their negative expectations of the training session. Ask them to think of what could go wrong during the session. Do not give any example because you don’t want to anchor the participants’ thoughts.

Distribute the supplies. Distribute blank pieces of paper to the participants. Ask each participant to secretly write a word or a short phrase that specifies his or her fears and worries about the training session. Instruct the participants to keep hide what they wrote.

Collect the negative expectations. Ask the participants to fold the piece of paper in half to hide the negative expectation. Ask one of the participants to collect these folded pieces of paper, mix them up, and pull out one at random.

Display the selected negative expectation. Place the randomly selected piece of paper at the center of the table so the word or phrase is visible to everyone. Read this negative expectation aloud.

Discuss suitable strategies. Tell the participant who wrote the expectation not to identify himself or herself. Ask this person to participate in the activity just like the other player: Ask everyone to offer friendly suggestions on how to reduce the probability of this negative expectation. The participants do not have to take turns; they conduct a normal conversation.

Conclude the round. After a suitable period, ask the players to conclude their conversation about reducing the selected worrisome expectation.

Repeat the activity. Open another folded piece of paper, display the negative expectation, read it, and repeat the friendly conversation as before. Continue the activity until all selected negative expectations have been discussed.

Replay with positive expectations. Ask the participants to secretly think of a positive expectation they are hoping for. As before, ask them to write this expectation on a piece of paper (as a single word or short phrase), keep it hidden from the others, and fold the piece of paper. Conduct the activity as before, except this time ask everyone to give friendly advice on how to increase the probability of wished-for outcome.

Share the suggestions. Ask each team to share one each of its negative and positive expectations and suggestions for reducing the former and increasing the latter.